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The Ascent Of Man : Complete BBC Series [DVD] [1973]

 Exempt   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
Price: 14.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

The Ascent Of Man : Complete BBC Series [DVD] [1973] + Civilisation : Complete BBC Series (4 Disc Box Set) [DVD] + Ancient Worlds [DVD] (2010)
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Product details

  • Format: Colour, PAL, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: 2 Entertain Video
  • DVD Release Date: 18 April 2005
  • Run Time: 650 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000772842
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,532 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

The Ascent of Man is regarded as one of television's greatest achievements. Dr Jacob Bronowski traces the steps of scientific imagination through history as they happened, where they happened. This lavish and thought-provoking series tells the story of the ideas that have transformed our lives.

More than three years in the making, with location filming in over 20 countries, this award-winning series remains compelling viewing.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
220 of 228 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
An epic investigation into human civilisation and one of the jewels in the BBC's crown, Jacob Bronowski's 'The Ascent of Man' was one of the most gripping and absorbing television experiences I have ever witnessed. At an age when I should have been going off down the pub and making a nuisance of myself, I stayed in, week after week to watch this production.
Bronowski, by the 1970's, was a well-known figure on British television - an intellectual and a scientist who could communicate the complex without sounding simplistic or making the viewer feel stupid. But 'The Ascent of Man' seemed a programme too far. The BBC charter, and the BBC's experience, might emphasise the need to educate and inform, as well as entertain, but surely an exploration of this nature was too vast and too cerebral for prime-time viewing? There were many who felt that it was pretentious of the BBC and that it would be played to a distinctly minority audience.
The result was not simply that Bronowski produced groundbreaking television and set the tone for the future, his exploration of human civilisation crossed the bridge of irony - the British public was not merely ready to watch this programme, they wanted exploration and enquiry, and they wanted the sort of production Bronowski could deliver. Here we had intelligent, intellectual analysis which was sustained by human values, not cold science! Bronowski conveyed passion and excitement and made knowledge and learning warm with emotion and anticipation!
Bronowski could inject passion into a fossil! He comes across as such a lover of life. This is not just a quick history of the world ... this is excitement captured on television, and now on DVD.
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200 of 208 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding television 22 Jun 2005
I watched the original "The Ascent of Man" series as a teenager in the early seventies & periodically caught up with sporadic episodes via video recordings & repeat broadcasts over the years.
Having purchased the DVD box set & had the chance to watch all 13 episodes in sequence over a short period of time, I have been nothing short of spellbound by a second exposure to Bronowski's achievement & performance.
This is material you need to immerse yourself in totally - close the door & brook no interruptions. Bronowski's greatest legacy through these essays is the way in which he brings to life through his own understanding & humanity the key individuals who have dominated the history of science. Each viewer will draw their own conclusions & have their own favourites, but for me the desciptions of the life & work of Alfred Wallace, Gregor Mendel, Albert Einstein & Leo Szilard are peaks on the already high plateau of analysis & explanation.
The series is peppered with profound quotations from his subjects & wonderful prose from Bronowski himself. I would challenge anybody with an ounce of humanity not to be moved by the closing sequences of 'The Majestic Clockwork','The Long Childhood' &, of course, 'Knowledge or Certainty' which is angry, chilling & heart-rending all at the same time.
They do not make them like this anymore.
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166 of 175 people found the following review helpful
There's a notice that hangs on the wall of many a BBC documentary producer which says something like: 'Remember - every programme should tell a story'. To say that The Ascent of Man achieves this apparently simple aim so successfully seems almost unnecessary, such is its reputation, but it's worth asking ourselves why it works so well.

In the end, it is the charisma of Dr Jacob Bronowski that is perhaps the key. He can talk straight to camera for minutes on end with no cross cutting, no punchy music and no heavy-handed visual metaphors filling the screen. Even in the best of today's documentaries, there is an almost desperate desire not to lose the MTV generation with, in the words of Bart Simpson, 'a four second attention-span'. Have we really lost the power to concentrate? The success this year of Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' which, aside from the odd bell and whistle, was essentially a filmed lecture, suggests not. We don't need television to talk down to us or assume we can't think for ourselves. Bronowski knew this instinctively.

His style is quiet but never shy, rich in the texture of his language and highly seductive. His views, even the highly personal ones, ring with a real honesty and integrity. His overall vision for mankind is, in spite of everything, an optimistic one.

No documentary presenter has ever, in my view, matched this. David Attenborough (who incidentally commissioned this series when he ran BBC2)comes close, as did Carl Sagan with his Cosmos series, and there is no doubting the enthusiasm of presenters like Patrick Moore. But the rot set in early and the meretricious posturing of the likes of James Burke led quickly to today's David Starkeys, the 'I'm cleverer than you are' school of presenters, as arrogant as they are unwatchable.
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intellectually stimulating TV 10 Oct 2005
By A Customer
The ability to sit down and watch all 13 episodes of the Ascent of Man in quick succession highlights just what an impressive achievement the series is. I remember watching the series when it was first shown in the 70s. I've no doubt that some of the scientific theories discussed have moved on since 1973 and the computers now look positively prehistoric but Bronowski is an engaging and stimulating presenter with an obvious deep knowledge of science but with historical and artistic knowledge too. A great shame that he wasn't spared to produce more work like this. Unfortunately I just can't see any TV company tackling such a "difficult" topic today so if you have not seen the series before, treat yourself and see that it is possible to produce more than reality TV and game shows and to entertain and educate at the same time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great history of mankind
A classic series of high quality. Still relevant and puts most of the current crop of TV documentary series to shame.
Published 5 days ago by Michael Holme
5.0 out of 5 stars brought as a present
Bought as a present. But arrived in very good condition and very quickly. The person I bought it for is very happy with it.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Of its time
i've been watching this in handy bite-sized chunks with my son who is too young to have seen it first time round. Read more
Published 2 months ago by J. R. Bedford
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly gripping series!
This has to be one of the finest documentaries ever shown on TV. A thoroughly gripping series presented by a veritable master of TV presentation, as well as an acclaimed scientific... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Speedygee
2.0 out of 5 stars Very dated and slow-paced
I watch a lot of scientific documentaries - this was on my Wish List for ages. I'm afraid I was enormously disappointed. Compared to contemporary documentaries (e.g. Read more
Published 4 months ago by John
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultimate Series Of Its Type
Dated, strange background music but still the best series on human civilisation. The only thing I'd add is that younger viewers may want to watch with subtitles on because some of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars Too young to recall the original, so I bought it - glad I did.
This is a great tour of mankind's development through the ages. It's dated now, to be fair, but it is an example of the BBC at it's best. Read more
Published 4 months ago by TS
2.0 out of 5 stars Just too old
Didn't like it, couldn't finish it. Looked too old, narration was boring. I usually like to watch documentaries, but this one just didn't do it for me.
Published 5 months ago by Missing in Action
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant series even after all these years
Well worth watching, educational and entertaining. Offers valuable insights even after forty years.
What? Read more
Published 5 months ago by BackstopBob
5.0 out of 5 stars Arrived very promptly
IN good-as-new condition and very good value - I'd forgotten just how good this series is, they (literally) don't make them like this any more.
Published 7 months ago by W. Alexander
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