I have seen a number of panoramic photographs over the years; I am particularly fond of the gigantic ones that line entire circular rooms, in which one can indulge in the illusion that one is present in the actual locale depicted, as everywhere one looks there is nothing but the smoothly flowing scene--thankfully broken by the seams that show where one photograph ends and the other begins, a hint of much-needed reality in that enclosed space, where fire has ruined a city or mountains loom like threatening giants. Always an amusement, and sometimes something more.
It seems logical for cinema to appropriate the panorama, with its fluid camera slowly moving along the wide expanse, each rock-solid or fairy-tale-ephemeral building at the Exposition passing by even more smoothly than my eye managed in the circular room. The Exposition, in this long gaze, becomes its own city, and the only thing we can see.
Then something uniquely "cinematic" occurs: The scene shifts suddenly to night-time, and we receive the same sliding view, but in darkness--lit brilliantly, yet another testament to Edison's immeasurable influence on the modern world, mere spectacle becoming something more: the night-time sequence re-enacting the daylight one, as though they were interchangeable, captured as a simple fluid gesture, the abrupt shift from noon to night a startling re-creation of the panoramic photograph's seams--but not merely a technical necessity that belies the illusion, but part of the sight itself, re-imagined as a single moment, time erased and the world still intact.
As usual, I try my best not to overstate, but I have imagined such a moment somehow incorporated into a narrative, and once again I see a new art being born, all for a nickel.