Search - Civilisation: The Complete Series on DVD

Civilisation: The Complete Series
Civilisation The Complete Series
Actor: Kenneth Clark
Directors: Michael Gill, Peter Montagnon
Genres: Television, Documentary, Military & War
NR     2006     11hr 10min

The eminent art historian Sir Kenneth Clark was commissioned to write and present an epic examination of Western European culture, defining what he considered to be the crucial phases of its development. Civilisation: A Pe...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Kenneth Clark
Directors: Michael Gill, Peter Montagnon
Genres: Television, Documentary, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Classic TV, Documentary, Military & War
Studio: BBC Warner
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 06/27/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/1969
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1969
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 11hr 10min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 4
SwapaDVD Credits: 4
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 10
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

If you buy only one DVD documentary this year, make it this.
Kenneth M. Pizzi | San Mateo, CA United States | 06/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Lucid, engaging, and comprehensive does not adequately describe Sir Kenneth Clark's magnificent survey into Western Civilization. For a series over 40 years old, the audio is remastered, the transfers are remarkably clean, and the content and opinions of the host hardly seem dated. Clark effectively interweaves music, art, science and architecture into a broad sweeping portrait that defines Western thought. For those critics who find Clark's praise for Western art either superficial or superfluous have probably been watching and listening to the typical PBS tripe directed to an audience with a junior high vocabulary with an attention span to match.

Clark is a splendid presenter and teacher whose enthusiasm for his work clearly shows. It's all here, from the ancient Greeks to the modern age (well actually, circa 1969 when the series was made), while "Civilization" is a wonderful introduction to the "humanities"--something that they used to teach in college, but now supplanted by courses and programs of dubious relevance and replete with politically correct content.

If you snoozed during your mandatory art or humanities courses in college or just found them as an opportunity to catch up on some other homework during lecture, let Sir Kenneth Clark explain to you why these things still matter today and help to define our culture and our lives. For slightly more than what you would pay for one class at a local community college, you can enjoy a most superlative achievement in truly "higher education."

Unlike the virtually unletterd commentators and hosts on the "History Channel" who apparently utter a profound "Wow, cool!" every time they are confronted with some architectual wonder or historical artifact, Clark's presentation, scholarly but never "stuffy," is a refreshing and welcome antidote.

Clark's remarks and insight are as on target as they are illuminating--see the installment featuring Michaelangelo and the Renaissance and you will understand why. Now, if only the BBC would release Alistair Cooke's "America" with Region 1 encoding for all of us to enjoy on this side of the pond..."
After Nearly Forty Years, Still Unsurpassed
Steven M. Wolf | Villanova, PA USA | 06/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In March 2001 I reviewed the VHS version of this classic. In recent years, I have lobbied for its release in the US in DVD. I joined Steve Lubetkin's blog last year to lobby the BBC, and now it is here. It is remarkable that this work of art about works of art has stood tall all these years against the plethora of programming that has sought unsuccessfully to surpass it. For all of us who know this series so well, it is not just a program; it is a document that families should pass on as necessary for a liberal education. Since it first came to America in the late '60's, nothing has married art, music, literature and a literate world view in the way Lord Clark showed us it was possible to do. That you may not share all his "personal views" is irrelevant. What matters is that what he puts before you will change and enlarge you. This must not be missed."
One of the greatest documentaries ever made
Charlton Griffin | Thomasville, GA | 07/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you have never seen this series before and are interested in art history, you just landed in a honey jar. Clark takes us on a 1,500 year journey through Western Civilization starting roughly at the end of the Roman Empire and ending in mid 20th century. He tells us straight out that his aim was to follow the history of Western European civilization as seen through the eyes of its artists. Why the limitation to only Western European civilization? Apparently, Lord Clark wanted to keep the series to a manageable length. The series is over 13 hours long as it is, and one can only wonder what it would have gone on to become had he included the Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Asian, African and Pre-Columbian cultures. The mind boggles. With Civilisation, Clark has done an incredible job of showing us the amazing cultural legacy left by our European forebears. And at the end he reminds us that this is only a fraction of what was actually achieved. You will recognize many of these works. Others will not be so familiar. But they carry the weight of historical significance, and everyone with at least a four year college education should be aware of the general drift of Clark's presentation. He finished this program for the BBC in 1969. It was an immediate success and you can also find the book of the same name which was a popular spinoff of the series. I recommend it also. The series came along in the midst of some of the most tumultuous scenes of civic strife of the last 50 years. Against this background, Clark laid out his thesis that Western civilization has consisted of a series of catastrophes and rebirths. He indicates that our depression over the events of the twentieth century should not lead us into abandoning the cultural legacy which has been bequeathed to us. For example, if the Black Plague of the 14th century were to strike us with the same force it did before, over a hundred million Americans would die. The Thirty Years war devastated parts of Europe even worse than World War 2. And yet, the will to survive and rebuild society was always there. It is a prescient reminder for the current generation of thoughtful people."
Brilliant - Not to be missed.
M. Hicks | 08/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Civilisation, A Personal View" by Kenneth Clark
Created in the 1960,s, this series continues to be a classic television series for those who want to be informed and entertained by a highly, knowledgeable and respected art historian, Kenneth Clark.

Mr. Clark does assume that he is talking to a viewer, who is educated, well-read, and has passionate interest in the history, issues, and flow of western civilization from the end of ancient Rome until the 1960's. As the subtitle, "A Personal View" and his commentary makes perfectly clear, he is presenting his knowledgeable view of the history of western civilization. Drawing upon his years of study and experience, his presentations are carefully crafted to have balance as well as clearly presenting his own personal analysis and conclusions as others. It is obvious that he is not in the entertainment business, but his manner is one of a learned host who is presenting an overview of western of civilization from the point of view of its art. The breath and depth of the subject matter is excellent and is highly recommended today as it was 30 years ago.

Finally, this excellent series is now available on DVD. On the technical side, the image quality DVD is in general very good but it is unfortunate that there are some scenes that do not have the quality that this series deserves.

(At bit of trivia - One of the supporting actors in a brief scene from Hamlet is none other than Patrick Stuart.)