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4.4 out of 5 stars19
4.4 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 September 2007
This is a rare item: a really good DVD about a city I know and love, a DVD that goes beyond mere tourist-friendly platitudes. Not only is the centre of London shown, for we also have the chance to see from the air Greenwich, Docklands, Hampton Court, and even Windsor Castle on a superbly-shot early misty morning.

Its title, whilst valid, should be amended to include "A History of the City's Built Environment", for the DVD is really about how London has been constructed and landscaped. However, what do we mean by the term "London"? This is where this DVD is a cut above the others, for it includes discussion about meanings and is content to display an unfashionable intellectual air. Of which other DVD are you aware that has its own select bibliography as an extra?

Neither is it afraid to have an opinion about developments. Although the series starts in Roman London, and much time is spent on historical styles and fashions through all ages, a good chunk - perhaps the last thirty minutes of the DVD - looks at 20th century developments. Much of the DVD focuses on three individuals, which the presenter believes above all others have made the greatest mark on the city: Nash, Wren, and Bazalgette.

When I say "this DVD", it should be explained that the driving force behind its appearance is its presenter, writer, composer, director and producer, Charles Guard. He is not someone I have previously seen in action, but he is clearly intelligent and engaging. He has interesting things to say, which again is a rare thing in this type of DVD.

Gripes? Well, yes, some, but these are really suggestions for improvements. More could be made of old maps and old paintings in explaining how London has spread from its Roman heart. It would have been nice to see the Roman wall superimposed on top of the aerial shot of the City. And maybe less time spent on explaining how sewage is treated downriver!

London is in perpetual flux, so the DVD is already dated. Shots of Trafalgar Square show traffic still flowing outside the National Gallery, and the marvellous (to me) Paternoster Square development north of Saint Paul's is still shown as being under construction. The demolition of the 1950s buildings opposite the eastern end of Saint Paul's along New Change is taking place as I speak. Nevertheless, this is no reason not to buy this wonderful DVD.

It even has a short ten-minute "making of" featurette that is fascinating in itself. As well as showing how the shots were technically filmed from a helicopter, Charles Guard also tells us how much he had to pay various institutions for interior shots. Most establishments charged in the hundreds of pounds, but the owners of Battersea Power Station asked for £2,000. Needless to say, he declined the offer. I urge you not to decline the offer of this ninety-minute plus fascinating documentary about how one of the world's greatest cities achieved that distinction.
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on 20 February 2002
It can be said that some programmes filmed mainly from the air can drag slightly after 20 minutes or so. But once you start watching this, you'll want to keep going to the very end.
For reseidents and visitors to London alike it provides a rarely seen view of London in all its glory. All presented in high quality wide-screen.
The DVD incorporates the bonus of seeing how the programme was shot. A great present for a friend and a treat for you!
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on 12 April 2002
This programme will be enjoyed by anyone who has ever visited London, whether a local or a tourist. The camera work is fantatic with some of the most amazing views of all the attractions that you can imagine. Not only that but the information on the development of London throughout the ages is educational and will be greatly of interest to all viewers
PLUS - Check out the language options!!
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on 29 December 2007
There's more to this DVD than one might think, in that it features an enjoyable and interesting commentary on the areas covered. As expected, the aerial views are absorbing, and backed up with ground-level shots, old maps and pictures. Sometimes you'll want to reach for the pause button, as some of the views are soon over and you haven't had to time to take everything in. However, with the film running at an impressive 97 minutes (though you can watch each chapter on its own), you can see why they had to edit the filming carefully. The fascination of the views from above is such that some areas, such as the City, Docklands or the West End, warrant a full film all of their own. As a synpopsis of many key areas though (including sites of infrastructure and railways), this is an excellent DVD.
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on 5 July 2003
This is an interesting account of the history of London, looking at various areas in the city and looking into the history.
I feel that it is a little pricy but if you have an interest in the history then certainly worth adding to your list.
My 3 star rating takes into account the higher price, maybe i was a little harsh.
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on 27 August 2011
As a German buyer, i like to buy this DVD because you can see to most places. All in all, I can agree with most of the previous reviews. The fascination of the views from above is such that some areas, such as the City, Docklands or the West End. I'm just missing such views at Harrods, Oxford Street or Kew Gardens.
This DVD will be enjoyed by anyone who has ever visited London, whether a local or a tourist. Good feature are the different language options.

Fuer alle die schon mal oder auch schon oefters in London waren ist die DVD eine sinnvoller Kauf, denn mit diesem Video wird London auch mal von oben sichtbar. Damit kann jeder sehr gut die Straßen und Locations erkennen. Zwischendurch werden auch Erklärungen zu einzelnen Gegebenheiten am Boden erklärt. Die DVD ist in mehreren Sprachen einstellbar, wobei eine Frauenstimme zu einem männliche Moderator sehr witzig ist. Ansich fehlen vielleicht manche toristische Punkte z.B. Harrods, Oxford Street oder Kew Gardens, jedoch ist die DVD gut gemacht und Empfehlenswert. Ich wuerde die DVD jedenfalls wieder Kaufen und schaue sie gerne wieder an.
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on 26 May 2013
This DVD is packed with fantastic images of London from the air and at ground level. The narration is informative and interesting in a relaxed, humerous style with nuggets of new information I didn't previously know.
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on 2 March 2013
A great way to see my hometown. There's a good history in the commentary. It's not only aerial shots there's footage at ground level too and the commentator features - not purely voice-over.
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on 18 June 2015
I have a couple of these type of DVD's with Charles Guard mostly regarding the Isle of Man. He is very interesting. This one of London is very interesting and well worth buying
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on 5 July 2012
Very nice introductry movie about London. It was a gift for my cousin in Spain. According to them it is very helpful to get to know London.Pleased with it.
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