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Civilisation: The Complete Series [DVD] 
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Kenneth Clarke's eloquent and deeply personal documentary series exploring the cultural heritage of the western world, from the collapse of the Roman Empire until the birth of modernism, was groundbreaking television when first broadcast by the BBC in 1969. With its use of exotic locations, and its engaging presenter with his idiosyncratic style, it influenced much of what was to follow. Progressing from the cultural effects of feudalism in medieval Europe to the birth of the Renaissance in fifteenth-century Florence, from revolutionary politics in France after 1789 to the growth of materialism in artistic and scientific discourse, Clarke did not just examine 'art', but wanted to reveal the spiritual and humanistic motives behind its creation. Includes all 13 episodes.
A major piece of television documentary making that’s been allowed out of the archives, Civilisation: A Personal View was first screened on BBC2 in 1969, having been in production for several years beforehand. Its ambition was clear from the off, giving that it was aiming to chart the history of Western philosophy, culture and art since not far off the dawn of time. What’s most remarkable, though, is just how well it did with the task in hand.
Civilisation: A Personal View was presented by the late Kenneth Clark, an art historian, and the programme was commissioned under the watch of David Attenborough. And across 13 episodes, it’s an engrossing piece of work, that remains as relevant and interesting today. Inevitably, the format is nowhere near as groundbreaking as it once was, which is unsurprising given that it established a template that many chose to follow. But the breadth and depth of the content, distilled with real skill by Clark, is what made it one of the most talked about, and popular, television series of its day.
And how lovely it is that the entire show has been remastered in high definition. Originally for the rebroadcasting of the entire series on BBC Four, Civilisation: A Personal View has now found a home it never expected to have on Blu-ray. The added clarity, appreciating the age of the source material, is a real and unexpected bonus, and Civilisation: A Personal View may just prove to be one of the most interesting and vital Blu-ray releases of the year. An astonishing piece of work. --Jon Foster --This text refers to the Blu-ray edition.See all Product Description
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Clark admits to influence by the Victorian historian and art critic, John Ruskin: the latter argued that history is written by the victors, literature by the partisan, but that art and architecture alone convey the soul of the age and thereby speak a truth which is inaccessible in the written word. Art, therefore, is an eternal truth which offers a window into the heart and soul of mankind. Clark says he couldn't define 'civilisation', but that he could recognise it when he saw it - consciously echoing the "I don't know much about art but I know what I like" cliché ... in precisely the same way that King's College Chapel echoes the sounds of bubblegum bursting.
'Civilisation' took three years to make, and was released in 1969, only two years after the BBC had ventured into colour broadcasting. Itself made in colour, the series was seen as a taking a huge risk. The BBC had - still has - a responsibility to produce educational and informative work, to stimulate and uplift, but the 1960's was a transitional era.Read more ›
Have you ever watched some soap opera or drama series where some twit yells "Don't lecture me!" when their interlocutor offers some well meaning advice? Well, here is the proof of how empty that usage of the word 'lecture' is.
In Civilisation: A Personal View, Lord Clark offers the viewer 13 lectures on civilisation as it is expressed through fine art, architecture, literature and music. Thousands go to university every year in the sincere hope of hearing some brilliant mind lecture in such a way as to warm, invigorate and inspire the listener to want to acquire further knowledge. In the late '60s the BBC was the kind of corp to invite just such a wise man to offer anyone and everyone a guided tour round the great churches, palaces, relics, ornaments and art works of western civilisation, all 'filmed' in glorious colour.
Nowadays, we get some celebrity, some egotistical familiar face for our history and culture shows. Watch this and you'll realise what a falling off there has been. Really, it is the kind of enterprise to return to again and again, because so much is packed into it. They wanted to commission a series about civilisation: they hired an expert to write and present it. So what if he's a lord and not some pleb with a regional accent. So what if he's a dapper gent with a richer command of the language than the kind of vain industry parasites we endure week on week in the new century. Fact is, he's obviously the real thing, obviously passionate about his subject, in possession of a vast knowledge which he communicates candidly, humbly and charismatically.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is still the greatest introduction to fine art there is. I first watched it when I was 14 and it has remained with me all my life. Ten stars!Published 2 days ago by A B S BALL
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR A QUALITY PRODUCT AND A MOST EFFICIENT DELIVERY SERVICEPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Absolutely wonderful viewing and a pleasure to revisit a decent language in use by Sir Kenneth. Deeply impressed by the quality of the BBC production about 50 years ago or more.Published 2 months ago by Carl Gustav
Excellent value. Item as described. Fast despatch. Reliable Seller. Buy with confidence.Published 2 months ago by M. R. Mughal
Classic BBC series. If you want to know a bit more about Europe's history this personalized view of an old English aristocrat will give you an excellent perspective. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Adrian
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