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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 15 January 2006
"Around the World in 80 Days" was made in 1988, and marked the start of Michael Palin's career in making travelogues for BBC television. The program was a huge success and has since been sold to many other television stations all over the world, and was released on videotape, and now on DVD. Since then five other BBC travelogues have been made with Michael Palin: "Pole to Pole", "Full Circle", "Hemingway Adventure", "Sahara" and "Himalaya". I recommend all of them, as well as the books that have been made for each trip.
In this trip Michael Palin follows roughly in the footsteps of the fictitious Phileas Fogg, the hero of Jules Verne's novel from 1872. The self-imposed rule was that airplane travel was not allowed, so the trip had to be done by train, ship, car, bus, etc.
The trip is beautifully filmed and Michael Palin's wit and charm makes it a special experience. Many different cultures and countries are experienced, and many interesting people and situations encountered.
A somewhat negative aspect is that a large portion of the travel time was aboard ships. With the exception of a dhow trip across the Arabian Sea (a high point of the entire trip) the days aboard ships were rather boring and prevented the interesting experiences that land travel would have resulted in.
This is most evident when Michael Palin disembarks from one ship in Singapore harbor at midnight and rushes through immigration and then exit processing and leaves the harbor at 2 AM to take a launch out to another ship that is waiting for him at sea just outside the harbor! He never gets to see Singapore at all, and remarks himself, "I thought I'd see the world on this trip. I can't see a thing!"
Despite the above criticism this is a great program and highly recommended.
The DVD version consists of three discs with seven 50-minute episodes, for a total of almost six hours.
One slightly unexpected thing is that the first six episodes cover the first half of the journey (London to the middle of the Pacific) while the last half of the journey is covered by a single episode. But it does actually make sense, as the last half of the journey is mostly ship travel and crossing the United States. The first half of the journey is much, much more complicated and many more countries are crossed or visited, and the first half also took many more days (58) than the last half (22).
As extra material on the DVDs there is a very interesting 18-minute interview with Michael Palin that I really liked. Among the intriguing facts that are revealed:
- Michael Palin was very flattered when the BBC contacted him and told him that he'd been selected for this program because they thought that he was exactly the right person for the job. It was only later that he discovered that he had been number four on a list of possible candidates - the first three had all declined!
- The BBC's contract with the producer was to make a program consisting of six episodes. But during the editing they became convinced that the trip across the Arabian Sea with the dhow was so fascinating that it should take up 45 minutes instead of 10 minutes in the program, and that the entire program should then be seven episodes. The BBC's initial reaction to being given seven episodes instead of six was one of ingratitude!
Highly recommended, as are all of the Michael Palin travelogues, both on DVD and as books.
Rennie Petersen
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on 21 August 2003
When the BBC first received its Charter in the 1920s it was charged with educating, informing and entertaining the great British public. This series of programmes from sixty odd years later perfectly encapsulates that original vision.
Gentle humour matched with beautiful photography and insightful narration make this DVD an essential purchase for those who still prefer a little romance mixed into their (often wishful) travel experience!
Michael Palin surpassed his earlier career achievements with this programme. Sadly he has yet to reach the same heights again, but that isn't a criticism. It is simply an acknowledement that "Around The World In Eighty Days" is an absolutely captivating televisual feast served up in very large and very palatable portions.
It could be said that this is Palin's "Citizen Kane". A masterpiece impossible to better!
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on 6 November 2003
Just a point to clear up, does the quality of the picture REALLY detract from a quality programme? Firstly, when watching this I didn't even notice much of a problem with the quality of picture, and secondly, if you take a piece of arse filmage and polish it up, does it make it good? No. The purpose of Around The World In 80 Days wasn't to be yet another celeb glam travel programme, it was meant to be a proper trial, a task, a race against time. The gritty film style gives a wonderful earthy, 'real' feel, backs up the impression that this is a bunch of people desperately trying to get round the world in 80 days. I found this series unique in that respect, several moments arise when the entire project could be scuppered thanks to delays here, strikes there, unforseen circumstance x .... sometimes there is no time for Palin to explore some of the exotic locations that his journey take him through. Just enough time for a quick hello before moving onto another form of transport. No carefully set up panning shots of your typical glitzy holiday programme, the essence here is the race. As a result of this dash around the world, the locations take second place to the characters that Palin meets. Everything is served up with the wonderful commentry by Palin himself, rather than just sitting back and vegetating in front of this, it actually excites.
You don't find that much in the way of extras with this, but its a nice lengthy series anyway ... plus you do get a nice interview with Palin on the third disc. Its something that you can find yourself returning to time and time again, feeling sad each time as Palin journeys through England to the finish line as you know that the adventure is over again. A fine DVD, and definately looking forward to other such as Pole To Pole and Full Circle being mastered to DVD. Unique.
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on 16 November 2003
My memories of '80 Days' when it was first broadcast was of a gripping traveller's tale that left you desperate to see the next instalment.
The choice of Michael Palin as the modern-day Phileas Fogg was inspired as it brought both a sense of humour and candour to a series which could have easily been another documentary. From England to Italy, Greece, Egypt... Michael's keen observations, trials and tribulations really did bring you along on the trip. The real success of the programme is that you believe that it is only Michael and yourself who are on the journey.
The choice of destination, mode of transport and specific areas of interest are also spot-on. The one programme which was entirely based on the sea trip from the Middle East to India does seem boring at first but gives you an insight into how the other inhabitants of this world live and it becomes the most enjoyable and poignant episode in the series. The fact that Michael comments that he will never see the crew again suggests that he too has learnt something from that part of the journey.
The reason behind only giving this 4 stars is that production team seem to have run out of ideas for closing the series. The final episode is quite poor with the journey from the US to the UK being uneventful and the welcome home in England being non-existent. It seems rushed and I would have thought that they would have mentioned to the Reform Club that Michael Palin would be arriving in 80 days time...
Overall a brilliant piece of work which has spawned a number of sequels hoping to recapture the sense of adventure of '80 days'.
Did I find it as gripping as in the 1980's? Well I did watch the whole DVD over the space of 24 hours...
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on 17 October 2003
This series, of all the series before it, and after it, is the series like none other. Not that the places he went were enormously exotic, or the travelling very challenging. Neither there was imminent danger nor some hidden secret about to be unveiled. But it is the people of the world, and the complex relationship between them and their surroundings, their customs, their religions, their food, their language, which is so exhilirating to share. You could almost feel the whiff of the warm Arabian Sea, or the texture of the sandwiches on the Crusier ship. One can smell the city of Bombay and touch the pacific. Palin sir - I thank you for this perfect series
And Palin shares all of this it to perfection. They say you cannot fake a genuine smile, and none of Palins were. He is a genuine human being which comes through.
I loved it the first time I saw it - and have seen it many times over - but looking forward to the Christmas holidays when I plan to watch it with my wife.
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on 31 December 2003
Like a lot of People I first saw this in the late 1980's. It has always stuck in my mind. I recently bought this DVD as I thought it would be a good addition to my collection. How right I was !! Like some of the other reviewers, I have found this compulsive viewing, and watching episode after episode seems effortless. Since Christmas TV was again pretty poor this year, this DVD was put on a lot. People at my house who had not much interest in this programme were slowly drawn into it, and by the third episode, they were hooked!! It really is that good. Cannot believe some People have moaned about the picture quality!! As one reviewer rightly points out, this was made on the go with older technology. I think the picture is fine, and no one I have watched it with mentioned any problems with it. If you want a DVD with a perfect picture, go and watch The Matrix for heavens sake. Most People with an interest in this Classic DVD will be 100% happy with this 3 disc set. It has beautiful photography, good sound, but beside all that, it shows the human spirit, and the stunning World we live in. Palin brings out the best in People, and vica versa.
This will not let you down, this DVD will make you happy,sad,humble and sometimes grateful for what you have, it may also make you envious that you are not travelling with Michael Palin right now..
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on 16 May 2004
This really is the peak of Palin's career and his whistle-stop tour leaves nothing to be desired. The "grainy" picture quality mentioned by some reviewers does not detract from the programme but reminds us that this was not set up in a studio with a million pound budget and digital trickery but was filmed post-haste by a crew of 2 directors and 3 engineers. At one stage, Michael must act as Presenter, Narrator and Sound Man due to limitations on a boat!
The programmes themselves serve as a wonderful view of the world we live in and are still very accurate. The crowning glory of Palin's experience is in London, England: after travelling the world and receiving help from Venetians, Egyptians, Indians, Yugoslavs, Chinese, Japanese and Americans alike, he returns to London only to discover that the man selling papers on the street corner won't let Passepartout film him! As Michael says "It's nice to be home"
An excellent investment.
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on 13 February 2004
80 days was the first of Palins great travel series, taking you all over the world. Follow his entire journey from start to finish, experiencing all of the sights and sounds of each country he visits. Fell the dismay when an ongoing connection fails, and he has to make new plans to complete his goal.
The DVD comes with a great interview with palin, revealing his thoughts and feelings about his original series. There are also subtitles, and the option to view all the episodes in a row or one by one. The 3 disc set is a must buy for any fan of Palin in his post-Python days and of his fascinating travels.
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on 22 December 2001
Michael Palin was an inspired choice by the BBC to take up the role of "Phileas Fogg."
His wit, incisive comments, common sense, and the cheek of ninepence make this a treasure in anyone's video collection. I must watch it a dozen or so times a year and still revel in the simplicity, and the fact that Palin actually did accomplish everything that he set out to do. The astrologer at the Indian hotel made a true prediction that Michael would make several of these trips...and so he has.
If I could afford to take him with me around the world, I would. The dhow episode is a masterpiece and even better in the book.
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on 19 February 2004
Difinitive DVD of how to do the world in 80 days or less!! This is the sort of multi disc dvd you can't stop watching. Unmissable narration by Michael & superb on the hoof photography as well! If you like globe- trotting like me but can't afford to do it then this is a " Must Buy!! ". Get it now!!
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