Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|A History of Britain - The Complete Collection|
Actors: Simon Schama, Michael Kitchen, Samuel West, Lindsay Duncan, David Threlfall
Genres: Television, Documentary
From the dawn of civilization to the 20th century, A HISTORY OF BRITAIN re-animates familiar tales and illuminates overlooked aspects of England's past. Written and hosted by historian Simon Schama (the bestselling author ... more »
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Buy the original BBC edition, not this A&E version
dooby | 04/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Schama's History of Britain is indeed a fine introduction to British History (or at least British History through English eyes). This documentary series is very well made and deserves all the 5 star ratings it get's at this site. However, no one seems to mention that this DVD set released by A&E/The History Channel is actually a cropped version, modified to fit a standard TV screen. This series was shot by the BBC in widescreen, as much to take advantage of the new widescreen medium as to project the panoramic grandeur of British history.
Both the Region 2 (UK & Europe) and Region 4 (Australia & New Zealand) versions are all in the original 1.85:1 widescreen (enhanced for widescreen TV). Only in America are we afforded the singular privilege of watching this show in a crappy Pan-&-Scan format courtesy of A&E/The History Channel.
The best buy right now would be to get the UK edition sold under the BBC's own label. Not only does it have 6 discs (1 disc of special features) compared to 5 in the American version, it is also much cheaper. You can get it through Amazon UK (at a 43% discount as of this date). Just make sure your system is able to play Region 2 discs and has native PAL capability. UK programs are recorded in PAL format rather than standard American NTSC."
Brilliant series that makes history alive!
Deborah MacGillivray | US & UK | 12/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are a lot of history specials out there, but none so brilliantly conceived and realised at this series. I love history, especially the history of Britain, and so it was never dry, stale facts to me. But few bring it into focus, make it so accessible, and cut through the fat, so to speak, to give you a clean, logical, common sense approach to History of England 101 Crash Course as Simon Schama does. Each episode is well-written, fast paced and thoughtfully crafted, with marvellous location work to support his tromp through the corridors of time. He discards dates as the primary input and goes to the movers and shakers, makes you see the Kings and King makers with eyes that are fresh and vital.After you travel this amazing journey through time, you will be sadden that history is not present this way in the schools and we all did not have Schama as our teacher!Nirvana for British History lovers!"
So, What's Not to Like?
dooby | 07/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am neither a history scholar nor a serious history buff, but I suppose that I am an Anglophile (with an especial appreciation for Thomas More, Charles Dickens, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and, at the moment, Tony Blair). I rushed out to buy this set after hearing Simon Schama give a talk at Brigham Young University earlier this year. Schama is a very charismatic speaker, and I'd be surprised if he didn't end up selling hundreds of BYU students and faculty on his videos that day.When I think of this series, a few of the words that come to mind are "beauty", "authenticity", and "solemnity". Schama's narration is spell-binding, and the cinematography (if that's the right word) is gorgeous. These are documentaries that it looks like took a lot of money to make, not because of the scale of historical re-enactments involved (which is relatively modest) but because of the overall quality of the product.Since Schama can neither be classified as a hagiographer nor an iconoclast, I'd almost include the word "balanced" in my description of his work, but that word might suggest mediocrity or at least moderation, and there's nothing lukewarm about the positions Schama takes. I suppose that there are people out there who might find Schama's dramatic and strongly-opinionated style off-putting. There might even be people who find the British countryside ugly and Britain's historical treasures boring. To the rest of you, I give this set a strong recommendation. As one caveat: there are maybe 2 or 3 spots in the 15 hours of this series in which parental discretion might be advised."
For those who thought History was boring...
James N Taylor | 03/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was one of those who throughout my school history lessons (I'm British btw) - yawned, misspelt essays, forgot important dates and mixed-up defining moments of my home country. It was just not for me, science please. After watching this series, I wish they had DVD's a few years ago!As soon as I saw the first episode, I went out, took the risk and bought the set. Fantastic. Divided into nice bite size pieces, Simon Schama takes us through the years, actually giving me an understanding and perspective on what happened so long ago, in an entertaining and informative style. Somehow he seems to get huge amounts of information, without you even realising it. I began to understand Britain's role defining parts of world history, for right or wrong. Boy can he tell a tale and keep you intrigued, it's hard for you not to want to stick the next DVD in, save for not wanting to get through it too soon. But then you do and rapidly get back to the beginning, watching it all again.Simon has his own style of narrative delivery, twitching and jerking his way when on screen. Most amusing but you can't not be endeared to him and be in awe of his knowledge. Respect.Perhaps not for the history boffin? Not at all, my girlfriend is history nut and she loves it. It has pride of place in my collection.Keep up the good work BBC, your're unique, paid for by the people, for the people. And advertising free."