Saturday, April 4, 2015

Retro Saturday: The Wonder World of Chemistry

Click the arrow to watch the film. Video source: wdtvlive42 YouTube channel.

I've always been a sucker for industrial documentaries and their sibling political propaganda films.

This week's Retro Saturday is an 18-minute 1936 film titled The Wonder World of Chemistry: A Film Story of Better Things for Better Living. It was produced by E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., Inc. — known today simply as DuPont.

The film was released the year after DuPont coined its famous marketing phrase, “"Better Things for Better Living ... Through Chemistry.” You will see and hear that phrase during the film. The phrase's derivation, “Better Living Through Chemistry,” was not coined by DuPont but came into popular use in the American lexicon.

The Wonder World of Chemistry is also a look at the U.S. economy in the mid-1930s, during the Great Depression. The U.S. unemployment rate in 1936 was 16.9%, down from the high of 23.6% in 1932, but still a staggering number by today's standards. The film reminds us that in the 1930s the U.S. economy was largely based on farming and coal mining as well as industry.

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