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Roman City
Roman City
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary
NR     2006     1hr 0min

Studio: Pbs Release Date: 05/06/2009 Run time: 60 minutes


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Movie Details

Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Art & Artists, Educational, History
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 04/11/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Great teaching tool about Roman Urban planning!
Caius Fabius | Oklahoma United States | 02/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Okay, I showed the first 2/3rds of the film to my high school students, and then they came back during lunch to watch the ending! An animated story line ties together a very good look at the how and why of various important functions and considerations of planning a Roman city. The audio-visual work is high class! Some adults expressed regret that there wasn't more animation! They enjoyed the story telling as well as the students. Make learning fun, add this to your collection!"
A Clever Look At Roman City Building, And Don't Forget To Al
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 04/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If cities largely define civilization, Western cities have been defined by the city planners and civic engineers of ancient Rome. As the empire expanded, these engineers planned and built cities throughout three continents that had logic, that had ample water by way of aqueducts, that had water distribution systems, sewers, paved streets with curbs and devices to slow traffic, public baths and public toilets, buildings devoted to culture and entertainment, warehouses, shops, homes and tenements. When the empire fell apart, it took 1,400 years for Western civilization to meet the challenges of urban living which the Romans had met.

Roman City was a PBS production built around David Macaulay's illustrated book, City: A Story of Roman Planning and Engineering. Macaulay is a writer and illustrator who is fascinated by how things work. He also is a first-rate teacher, able to describe and show concepts and techniques so they are understandable and fascinating. Roman City, with Macaulay as narrator, opens up his book with location shots at several ancient Roman cities such as Pompeii, Herculaneum and Ostia, as well as with illustrations taken from the book and with animation. We get to see why Roman cities were laid out the way they were and how important arches and concrete were. As with the book, the program tells the story of the planning, building and growth of the fictional city of Verbonia in Gaul, beginning with the decision of Caesar Augustus to establish the city in 27 B.C. The cast of characters includes the animations of young Marcus Fabricius (voiced by Derek Jacobi), the engineer charged with designing and building the city; Gaius Verlius (voiced by Brian Blessed), the former general appointed by Caesar to run Verbonia; and Caesar Augustus himself (voiced by Ian McKellan). The story line works up to a point. The device of the fictitious Fabricius and Verlius helps to personalize the problems and decisions. On the other hand, there are side issues -- the conflicts between the Gauls and Romans, the hatred of the Druids, the corruption of officials -- which, in my view, become distractions to the fascination of how things were actually built. A couple of the fictional secondary characters quickly become irritating when they show up for some humor.

On balance, I think this is an hour-long program that fans of engineering and ancient Rome will enjoy. I did. But I'd encourage anyone who gets this to also get a copy of David Macaulay's book. It's excellent throughout with none of the distractions. PBS also did programs based on three other outstanding Macaulay books, Pyramid, Castle and Cathedral.

The DVD presentation looks good. There are no extras."
Excellent explanation of people, politics, and architecture
C. O. DeRiemer | 01/07/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am a high school history teacher. I show this video to my students when we discuss the Roman empire. It gives a strong overview of life, politics, and architecture of a Roman city. It is extremely interesting, and my students actually requested to see it again. Macaulay combines the reality of an actual Roman city with a story in animation. This story depicts a time during Roman expansion. This combination works well to show how people lived and issues they faced as Rome built cities across Europe."
Interesting Use of Animation to Bring History to Life
Hannah C. | Illinois, United States | 04/12/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This enjoyable, informative documentary covered a wide range of subjects, not just Roman architecture.
Alternating between animated scenarios and live-action documentary, this film is a perfect teaching tool in which children might find real interest.
However, it is not just for children and teachers; adults, too, can learn much from its knowledge.
The animated portion of this documentary focuses primarily on Roman politics and the Roman control of other areas, such as Gaul (France). It also takes a stab at how conquered peoples might have felt, working a story into known facts and history seamlessly.
The live-action documentary segments are also extremely informative, and mainly focus on the ingenius architecture used in ancient Rome.
I would say that both portions of the film have great value for people of all ages. The animation struck me as a great way to make history interesting for students, though.
While I did find David Macaulay's attemtps at humor somewhat gauche, this did not affect the overall quality of the film.
Overall, this great, information-filled documentary can be enjoyed by viewers of all ages, and employs some interesting, effective comprehension techniques. I would recommend it to anyone interested in Roman history and architecture."