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Civilisation: The Complete Series [DVD] 
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Kenneth Clarke's eloquent and deeply personal documentary series exploring the cultural heritage of the western world, from the collapse of the Roman Empire until the birth of modernism, was groundbreaking television when first broadcast by the BBC in 1969. With its use of exotic locations, and its engaging presenter with his idiosyncratic style, it influenced much of what was to follow. Progressing from the cultural effects of feudalism in medieval Europe to the birth of the Renaissance in fifteenth-century Florence, from revolutionary politics in France after 1789 to the growth of materialism in artistic and scientific discourse, Clarke did not just examine 'art', but wanted to reveal the spiritual and humanistic motives behind its creation. Includes all 13 episodes.
A major piece of television documentary making that’s been allowed out of the archives, Civilisation: A Personal View was first screened on BBC2 in 1969, having been in production for several years beforehand. Its ambition was clear from the off, giving that it was aiming to chart the history of Western philosophy, culture and art since not far off the dawn of time. What’s most remarkable, though, is just how well it did with the task in hand.
Civilisation: A Personal View was presented by the late Kenneth Clark, an art historian, and the programme was commissioned under the watch of David Attenborough. And across 13 episodes, it’s an engrossing piece of work, that remains as relevant and interesting today. Inevitably, the format is nowhere near as groundbreaking as it once was, which is unsurprising given that it established a template that many chose to follow. But the breadth and depth of the content, distilled with real skill by Clark, is what made it one of the most talked about, and popular, television series of its day.
And how lovely it is that the entire show has been remastered in high definition. Originally for the rebroadcasting of the entire series on BBC Four, Civilisation: A Personal View has now found a home it never expected to have on Blu-ray. The added clarity, appreciating the age of the source material, is a real and unexpected bonus, and Civilisation: A Personal View may just prove to be one of the most interesting and vital Blu-ray releases of the year. An astonishing piece of work. --Jon Foster --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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But when the DVD box set was released I could not resist buying a copy from Amazon in the mid 2000's. Each iteration of viewing seemed to tease out more detail and the DVD’s were so much better than VHS, particularly when upscaled, that I thought this experience could not be bettered either.
However, owning Civilisation in Blu-ray is an absolute revelation. There is so much more clarity to every scene, the colours are deep and vibrant in a way that one never thought possible, the sound seems clearer and brighter and is not at all compromised by the little bit of background hum that is audible in some scenes, (it was the same in the DVD set). In fact this seems somehow to add to its period character, some of my older classical vinyl recordings exhibit the same quality, its part of their “charm”.
If you have Civilisation on DVD then do treat yourself to a Blu-ray copy, I hope that like me you will cherish this landmark series even more (if possible). If I live long enough perhaps one day the BBC will produce a 4k copy, (I understand the original 35mm negatives are of sufficient clarity that this would be possible) now that would be a treat to savour!
A transcendent piece of documentary making which at the time was intended to demonstrate the capability of colour TV but which goes soo much farther than that. This is history as it should be taught. Treat yourself and your family to this masterpiece of television. Blu Ray is a must. You'll not find many better ways to spend £20. Simply a must.
PS This Blu Ray edition is worth acquiring keeping in mind the improvement in image quality.