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4.6 out of 5 stars53
4.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 November 2009
This is one of the best Michael Wood documentaries, a modern journey that is undeniably epic in scale. Twenty thousand miles from the snowy peaks of Vergina in Macedonian Greece, through modern-day Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and India.

Unfortunately, events in Iraq (the journey took place in the mid-1990s) meant that he could not reach the site of the battle of Gaugamela. Instead, we are compensated by time spent exploring the paths and problems that had Alexander had in his approach to the Persian capital of Persepolis. He also has trouble in Afghanistan, but not necessarily from the Taliban; rather, it was the terrain and the bandits in the mountains that caused problems.

Thankfully, this is no docu-drama: no, it is Wood himself who makes the journey whether it is by foot, by train, yacht, tractor, bus, car, helicopter, van, AWAC (!), lorry, horse, or warship. And his knowledge of languages is clearly impressive, seemingly being able to communicate directly or throgh interpreters in Turkish, Makrani, Baluchi, Urdu,or Pashtun.

The series is not as academic as his search for the Trojan Wars; rather, it is more of a travelogue, but he tries to remain as faithful to the sometimes contradictory sources as possible. Wood's key problem is untangling the facts from the legend. With the writings of the contemporary Callisthenes in hand, together with those of Arrian and Curtius, who wrote three-to-four hundred years afterwards, he attempts to make sense of the disagreements that exist in the documentary sources.

By following in Alexander's footsteps, Wood claims to have made some insights into Alexander's character. For instance, walking along the coast of south-western Turkey, he deduces that Alexander did not always plan ahead, that he was an obstinate man, and that many of his successes depended on luck. He also locates the spot - at Siwa in the Egyptian desert - where you can still stand on the same stones that he stood upon, perhaps the only place on earth where this is possible.

Throughout the series of four episodes, Wood seeks out modern day resonances in the stories and legends still told in the communities along the way. In Persia it is the Zoroastrians who tell their side of Alexander's march through their lands. Whilst with the Kalash of the Hindu Kush he drinks with possible descendants of Alexander's army. Wood does not shrink from examining the dark side of Alexander, such as his self-deification, his crucifixion of Callisthenes, and what would now be termed `war crimes'. Come the end of the journey, Wood's admiration for Alexander is tinged by the hero's foolhardiness and trickery: "A man broken in the end by the loneliness and insanity of absolute power."

The set comes with a thirty-six minute interview (presumably shot in 2005 - it refers to the Oliver Stone movie), in which Wood says that to try and tell Alexander's story without following it on the ground would be a meaningless exercise. He also says how his view of Alexander was affected y the still-living traditions that he encountered along the way, traditions that viewed Alexander as accursed rather than gifted by the gods. He also tells how some of the trips were organised, especially to Afghanistan, and he comments on the Hollywood films that have been made with their `negative ending problem'.
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on 2 July 2006
This is one of the very best of Michael Wood's documentaries, an excellent blend of history and travel, not all of it easy. The comparison of the past (based on the works of classical writers quoted by Wood) with the present as experienced by Michael and film crew, is fascinating, particularly when direct links with Alexander are encountered.

Of the documentaries available on Alexander the Great, this one is definitely the best.
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on 28 August 2008
We watched this after watching Oliver Stone's Alexander Revisited (the final cut) and I'd recommend doing that as this documentary works brilliantly afterwards going into depth and giving you further insights. Make sure you watch the interview with Michael Wood at the end in which he comments on the film etc - it is all excellent. Michael Wood's understanding of the need for historical context and his commitment to trying to understand Alexander in his own terms as much as from our modern perpective is to be applauded. This really is a brilliant documentary - visually stunning, intriguing and entertaining. I cannot imagine anyone interested in this subject being disappointed with this 2 DVD set.
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Michael Wood at almost his very best. As per the title it's a trip in the (guessed at on occasion) footsteps of to megalo Alexandros. It's well made, good camera work and Michael's script is first rate. He's not blind to Alexander's faults so it isn't all Arrian but even if one doesn't know anything about the subject it's still entertaining and informative - there's also lots of blue sky which is a great help with the summer and winter we are having.

Comes on two DVD's and covers the ground from Greece to India and highly recommended.
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on 26 February 2014
Alexander keys directly into something in the male psyche. He has been an inspiration and a challenge to successive generations of men for the last two and a half thousand years. And that influence shows no sign of abating. I would summarize it thus: By the age of 32, Alexander had conquered the known world. What have YOU done?

It is clear from the risks he took during the making of this four-part documentary series, and from the near-obsessive zeal with which he pursues Alexander's shade across the Near and Middle East (and on into Asia) that even Michael Wood is not immune to his influence, nor to the question which he sets up in the mind of every man: "What have YOU done...?"

Where Wood particularly scores is in giving you the sense and sight of the vast and often empty landscapes which Alexander and his men traversed. Lonely, dangerous and often frightening places - neither well known nor well travelled in his day - which underscore the tremendous risks which he took, as well as his determination to master them and conquer. No-one else could have done it. And no-one else would have done it. Because on the face of it, it looks like sheer madness to even try...

It is also to his credit that Wood includes the Persian side of the story, in the form of the still extant oral traditions which the local people have about Alexander. Alexander the Accursed. Alexander the Devil. Alexander the Horned One, who burned their holy books, ruined their temples and (so they say) forced their children to marry Greek soldiers. There is also Alexander with Blood On His Hands. In other words, this documentary is not simply an exercise in western chauvinism and triumphalism.

You cannot but respect the lengths to which Wood and his team went to make this series, which is spread over two DVDs. My one criticism of it is that I wish it had been given a better overall shape. In brief, there is too much crossing of the Hindu Kush (which seems to take forever) and too little on Alexander's boyhood and adolescence - the formative years in anyone's life. They could have edited the first, and used the time saved to flesh out the second. And that's why I'm giving this production four stars. Also - and this appears to be customary - the boyhood dynamic between Alexander and his great tutor, Aristotle, is largely ignored. Although the Greek biographer, Plutarch, does touch upon it.

So, 'In The Footsteps of Alexander...' is not quite a great documentary series, but it is a very good one.
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on 6 March 2013
Until I watched this series I had not understood the enormity of Alexander's achievements. I was amazed by the distances he covered with his army, at the skill and care it must have taken to provision it on the march, and at his daring and ingenuity in the ways he found to conquer various armies and generals.

The series is very well done. I enjoyed it immensely
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on 29 July 2004
This is an excellent video for someone like myself who had little prior knowledge of Alexanders exploits.It certainly is not high brow nor is it boring. Michael Wood is enthusiastic and passionate about his subject. Following Alexanders route makes you realise just how incredible his achievments were. As a travel programme alone it is brilliant add the history as well and you have a real winner.Footage of the severity of the terrain Alexander led his army through in places like the Hindu Kush and Afganistan is amazing. These programmes inspired me to learn more about the Macedonian king and I have since read several books on the subject. A pretty good endorsement for the programme, well done Michael Wood.
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on 9 December 2011
This is a fascinating, educational documentary series following the footsteps of Alexander the Great and his conquest of much of the known world at the time.

Presented by Historian Michael Wood he tracks Alexander's life from childhood to greatness.
In doing this Wood travels through Greece, Turkey, The Middle East, as well as India and Iraq and visits the cities and battlefields under discussion.

Michael Wood as an Historian and Presenter is enthusiastic and passionate about the subject and this rubs off on you as you watch the series.

All said and done an excellent series and anyone who enjoy's history will love it.
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on 10 February 2013
Great researched history about "Alexander The Great". It is a fun to watch, this there a lot of new facts in this DVD, anyway for me. It is still a riddle for me how could Alexander`s man destroyed Persepolis in only one night. I think this will be an enigma for all times.
I can recommend this DVD for every man who interested about the history of "Alexander the Great" and his way he took to become the ruler of the ancient world.
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on 14 January 2004
Awe-inspiring description of the most enviable conquest in history. Regrettably for the previous commending reviewer M. Wood wrote not only what he read about, but also what he saw and discovered during his trip. The traces of Hellenism and Greek culture from Asia minor to India and from the mountains of Afghanistan to the deserts of Egypt.
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