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The 1900 House
The 1900 House
Genres: Drama, Television
NR     2003     3hr 40min

Viewers time-travel vicariously in this four-part "docu-soap" that transplants a modern family from 1999 to 1900. The series clearly evinces the radical changes in domestic life wrought by the scientific and technological ...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Drama, Television
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 08/05/2003
Original Release Date: 06/12/2000
Theatrical Release Date: 06/12/2000
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 3hr 40min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 27
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A modern family lives 3 months using 100-year-old technology
Steven Capsuto | Philadelphia, PA United States | 06/13/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Bowlers, an everyday British family, were selected from 400 families who applied to star in what would become the most popular series on England's Channel 4 that season. The Bowlers agreed to spend three months living the life of a lower middle-class family of the late 19th century, without modern conveniences, in an authentically reconstructed Victorian house. In the premiere, we see the producers' search for an appropriate house, the hunt for authentic furnishing and housewares, and a construction crew's removal of electricity, central heat, indoor toilet, etc., as they turn a London row home of 1999 into The 1900 House. We also see various families' auditions. In episode 2, the Bowler family is outfitted with their 1900 clothing, and is greeted at their new home by the museum curator in charge of the house's restoration. We witness their first week in The 1900 House. By part 3, Victorian life is starting to wear down the family's composure -- especially the women's -- so the mother places an advert for a housemaid. The maid agrees to abide by the rules: cleaning will be done using late-19th-century technology. In need of a break, much of the family visits a public baths -- except the women, who are not welcome there. Part four presents the end of the Bowlers' stay in the house, and sums up. Utterly fascinating and always entertaining. It's sort of what you'd get if you crossed THE REAL WORLD with UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS. This American video release has an advantage over the video that was sold in the UK, in that the PBS video contains the complete four-hour series."
A Real Time Machine
Steven Capsuto | 06/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"1900 House may be the closest thing to a time machine any of us will ever experience. This series follows the Bowler family as they agree to live their lives according to the reality of 1900 London. That means period clothes, gas lamps, etc. - all the seemingly romantic trappings of the period. It also means cold baths, dinners that take all day to prepare, clothes that are never quite clean, dreary and damp rooms that are always too cold. It's fascinating to watch how the family comes to grips with 1900s life. The mother's frustrations are especially palpable. I hope Britain's Channel 4 decides to do more series like this one - each one going back another 100 years."
More, More, More! Fascinating and fun viewing.
Margaret P Harvey | Charlottesville, Va United States | 07/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"You don't have to be completely obsessed with Victorian history and social life to love this documentary. Watching a modern day family cope with the hardships and joys of a completely alien existence is fascinating to anyone, history buff or not. The refreshing honesty of the Bowler family, and the realness of the project draws you in and you become attached to each "character" even more than you would in a book or movie. Unlike other reality shows, the presence of the family makes the atmosphere loving and supportive, not nasty and backstabbing. Everyone?s in it together, and that?s really nice to watch. But if you are, like myself, interested in history and specifically Victorian history, this movie is a rare gem. You get to see what we have glossed over in our interpretation of the period. I can say that I did over glamorize the lack of technology, and have never even pondered the constraints on diet and hygiene. The documentary truly opens your eyes to living history in a way no book or movie could. It is a little disappointing that all but one family member rejoined modern life for work and school, as I?m sure that somewhat lessened the full force of the experiment. But the experiment is still very forceful and, more importantly, fun to watch. I would recommend this to anyone, and I would especially recommend it to history buffs of any era because it opens your eyes to the difference in living history and the history time remembers."
Revealing look at both contemporary and Victorian mindsets
Price Grisham | Essex, MA United States | 08/05/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I thought The 1900 House well done, overall; it revealed both the more elegant aspects of the era (home decor and clothing) and the more awkward aspects (everything painfully basic and time consuming). However, I was startled to see that an intelligent, well-educated family of the 21st century could not function well with mere books, board games, and conversation for entertainment. Perhaps this is because two absolutely central aspects of Victorian life were not included in their lives at all (and perhaps could not have been in this context): Church and social life, which often intersected, were vital to Victorians. Unless you were a very disfunctional Victorian family indeed, this important community connection not only lightened some of the more dreary aspects of life, it was also seen as a moral obligation. (This could be why the "reality" family found so little to converse about. Was life so boring because this was 1900 or because there was no social interaction at all for this family? That would be boring in any period.)Another point (which the program addressed briefly but perhaps not quite accurately) was domestic service: Many families in this economic catagory quite often seem to have had one live-in and one "daily" or to have sent their laundry out. Various memoirs and autobiographies from this period also indicate that some servants, at least, took pride in their profession and were treated with respect by their sometimes struggling employers (Agatha Christie's excellent autobiography would be a good example). Not all, but some.This program did show us the down side of "the good ol' days" and kept us from romanticizing the period; but it is perhaps also true that we, as modern individualistic people, are losing the ability to appreciate a more community-oriented and simplified life (but who could not immediately empathize with the joyful return to a modern washing machine?!). Thus, The 1900 House seems to have been quite as revealing about the pro's and con's of The 2000 House as it was about the very late Victorian era (when many modern conveniences were only ten or fifteen years away; had this been even The 1913 House, life perhaps would have been more bearable)."