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The Spartans (Channel 4) [DVD]

4.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Bettany Hughes
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Simply Media
  • DVD Release Date: 5 Sept. 2011
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002PC25Y
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,722 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Who were the Spartans and how did they earn their fearsome reputation as some of the mightiest warriors the world has ever known? In this critically acclaimed Channel 4 Series, Bettany Hughes reveals one of the most extraordinary city states of ancient Greece and the secrets of its people. Having enslaved their neighbours and turned the day-to-day tasks of society over to them, the Spartans devoted their entire lives to producing the ultimate warriors.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Bettany Hughes does an excellent job of bringing to the layman the history of the Spartan people. True it doesn't go into a great amount of detail, but it doesn't have to. Set against the rugged backdrops of what was once Sparta, Bettany explains the history of how the Spartans lived, fought and were finally defeated in the wars with Athens and Thebes. Also explained is how the Spartans viewed themselves and their one time allies and later, their deadly enemies Athens.
If I had one complaint to make, it would be that it was a little short. Two and half hours to cover the history of this fascinating period of history and the Spartan people isn't enough.
That said though, well worth the price! More please Bettany, how about "The Athenians" next?
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Format: DVD
An engaging documentary artfully assembled, this 2003 British production has been a hit for PBS in the United States, with the videos and tie-in book (the US edition of Paul Cartledge's The Spartans) often on backorder status. It is a rarity in that it gives Sparta its due for helping Greece resist the Persian threat and credits Sparta for its more enlightened attitude toward women. Host Bettany Hughes is a sympathetic and knowledgeable narrator. THE SPARTANS boasts terrific location photography by Douglas Hartington, with some impressive aerial shots of the Taygetus gorges. For the first time in a television documentary, we are treated to detailed examination of many artifacts in the Sparta Museum as well as shown many photos of archaeological excavations at Sparta. The atmospheric soundtrack is composed by Anthony Burke. Evocative reenactor footage is used, even if the footage tends to be come repetitive by Part 3.
Part 1
THE SPARTANS opens at Thermopylae and with the epitaph of the Three Hundred -- and very stirring it is to hear this spoken in the original Greek -- before introducing some of the topics that will be addressed in the program. (Hmm. The claim that "male homosexuality was compulsory" is extremely dubious; the first boldfaced assertion as fact of a subject hotly debated among ancient and modern experts.) After the introduction, we journey to the Dark Ages of Greece, the end of the Achaean Age and the coming of the Dorian Greeks to the Peloponnesus and Laconia. An effective look at the development of hoplite warfare is presented. Next comes the Messenian conquest, then the establishment of the Spartan constitution. The upbringing of Spartan youths, warts and all, is then addressed at length.
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Format: DVD
Lots of interesting facts, and a scenic tour of some of the sites Bettany Hughes tells us about, make this a very entertaining and informative DVD. Time did whizz by a little as I watched it, and I rather wished it had been longer. But besides that, not too heavy going! Lots of beautiful scenery to feast your eyes on, and then to try and imagine how it must have looked long ago. Recommended for anyone with an interest in Spartan life and culture.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Bettany Hughes just brings the Spartans to life. She has a way of presenting the facts and telling the stories on a down to earth level, without making anything complicated. She just draws you in and leaves you hungry for more. Indeed you feel you are there. I have watched the spartans several times and it just would not be the same if anyone else presented the programmes. To not have this in your DVD collection would be like having a beer festival without the beer.
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By Sussman TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 Sept. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As other reviewers have commented Bettany Hughes brings her telling of History to life. Her enthusiasm and presentation are of a very high calibre, but not highbrow. The Spartans and her telling of their lives and culture of these elite warriors is really top notch. On average I re-watch the DVD at least once a year and I never tire of it, for those of you have not seen this DVD, please put this DVD in your must see list.
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Format: DVD
You might think I overstate the case in singing the praises of Oxford-trained historian Bettany Hughes, host of this three-part series. But it's hard not to when the series itself focuses nearly half of its footage on the graceful lines of Hughes and her sleek black hair. Forget ancient ruins and statues of Spartan warriors, let's focus on Bettany on horseback or walking through the Oracle at Delphi in a red dress.
I had hoped The Spartans might be in the vein of Michael Wood and his excellent productions. It tries the same method of an engaging host, modern day shots of historic places, and a travelogue feel. But the series struck me more as the sort of thing you show general audiences or maybe a high school history class on a Friday afternoon. That's not to say it's not well done: it just doesn't go into depth. Dates are not so important as just providing a flavor for the history of Sparta. To be fair, with only three hours to cover 300 years or whatever, Bettany does have to move fast.
The Spartans are most known for their militarism, the radical freedoms it accorded to its women, and the stand of 300 Spartan warriors at Thermopylae. For that, and considering how decadent and anti-woman Athens could be, I had some respect for Sparta. Yet after watching this series, I have learned that Sparta enslaved its neighbors, gave up its able male children at 7 for military training (and killed those after birth who were not deemed to be strong), and so separated the sexes that both turned to homosexuality and were almost at a loss to come together and mate at the time of marriage. Its emphasis on self-denial and constant warfare--all while enjoying the fruits of an economy based on slavery and disenfranchisement means that Sparta was little better than a 20th Century totalitarian regime.
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