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

4.7 out of 5 stars 168 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • The Ascent Of Man : Complete BBC Series [DVD] [1973]
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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: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000772842
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,311 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

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

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I've learnt more in the course of watching this compelling series than I did during seven years of secondary school education.

It's not simply a matter of Jacob Bronowski's intellect, but his own life experience and essential humanity that shines through and informs every word. I've never seen anyone conflate the arts and science as he does - and with such charisma, as though he's sharing some secret knowledge with you. You can't help but be flattered by his concentrated attention.

It's a masterclass in the art of the authored documentary, effortlessly juxtaposing different periods, personalities and ideas and always with a satisfying visual style - from the framing of individual shots to the staging of elaborate set-ups (see the surreal opening to Programme 11 about the imperfection of knowledge in which a giant human head sits incongruously on the beach with an assortment of scanners, cameras and other devices arranged about it).

It's not simply the story itself and how Bronowski chooses to tell it, but how he encourages you to think about the nature of human progress - our journey - and the limits of our own knowledge that is most affecting. He makes you think, rather than simply 'receive'; he makes you care, rather than simply understand.

There's an additional nostalgic pleasure to be had that was not available to the original audience in 1973 - whether its the giant computer with its childlike rendering of atomic structures, the locations populated with what are now considered vintage cars or Bronowski's own delightfully idiosyncratic wardrobe.
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'The Ascent of Mankind'.
A truly great (in the real sense) pioneering documentary. Sadly not many are made like this any more, apart from those of David Attenborough, who as Controller of the new BBC 2 in the late 1960s was the pioneer who commissioned this series in early colour. It was intended as the scientific follow up to the worldwide hit series on western european culture presented by Lord Clark 'Civilisation' , and Alastair Cooke's 'America'. also commissioned by BBC 2.
What a relief to switch over from the unchallenging TV of today to watch a ground breaking documentary (of its time). A gripping and fascinating history of science with an impressively brilliant presenter, Dr Jacob Bronowski, who assumed an educated audience, able to concentrate.
13 mind stretching instalments and a fascinating booklet about its making.
'Civilisation' is now being remade, so let's hope 'The Ascent of Man' will also have a modern sequel.
Pity it wasn't titled 'The Ascent of Mankind' though. Not recommended for Tweeting Twits.
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I am a cerebral man. This four dvd collection appeals to the very core of my being. I shall draw your attention to two of Jacob Bronowski's perspectives on the ascent of man.

One is that humans are the only animal to make love face to face. Combined with the observation that the human female is the only female of any animal to have an orgasm and we have a direction to take our understanding of these findings.

Two is the view that only a human is both solitary and social.

In the case of the observation concerning making love you could say this encourages social/family development. Or you could say it's learn and move on. Another fundamental outlook of Dr Bronowski is that science, in science nothing is certain. The parallel with the certainties of Nazi Germany is compellingly put.

The stifling of human intellect in childhood is seen as an enemy of civilisation. Conformity is a killer. Civilisation limits the imagination of the child. It is the individual who carries integrity with ease. I despair at the debilitating conformity around me.

It is true I longed for the most up to date information on much of the scientific analysis. DNA, for example, seems to be on the road to eradicating crime altogether. I would have liked to see the latest developments. But do not let this distract you from the Doctor's lecture on the human animal (if you are concerned about 'man' for mankind). His insights never falter. I could not help but notice the story is one of individuals. Never the ignoramus that is society.
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i've been watching this in handy bite-sized chunks with my son who is too young to have seen it first time round. Compared wuith modern documentaries it may seem a little dated, but I love the fact that it doesn't suffer from flashy costumed reenactments to illustrate every point. Bronowski clearly not only knows his subject but delivers it clearly and concisely. It's like sitting in on an accessible academic lecture transported to the actual location. Oh how i wish I'd had this chap teach me maths.
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Easily one of the best documentaries I have ever seen, while Bronowxki is a little dry as a presenter he still manages to engage the audience. It is informative and entertaining. Would be a great aid to students but well worth watching for anyone interested in history and especially how man became what he is today.
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