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The Spartans
The Spartans
Actors: Mychal Wilson, Geno Taylor, Carsten Norgaard, Tucker Smallwood
Director: David Portlock
Genres: Documentary
UR     2003     3hr 0min


Movie Details

Actors: Mychal Wilson, Geno Taylor, Carsten Norgaard, Tucker Smallwood
Director: David Portlock
Creators: Mychal Wilson, Geno Taylor, David Portlock, Richard Hull
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Documentary
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD
DVD Release Date: 09/02/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 3hr 0min
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

Movie Reviews

The glory of the Lacedamonians
D. Roberts | Battle Creek, Michigan United States | 11/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is one of the greatest historical documentaries I have ever seen. Of course, the fact that it details the chronicles of one of my very favorite historical peoples doesn't hurt.The documentary is narrated and put together by a scholar named Bettany Hughes. Hughes brings ancient Greece to life by travelling to all the relevant locales in modern day Greece, and some of the topography has not changed hardly at all since the days of the Spartans. Hughes stands at the cliffs of rejection, wades in the river Evrotas, takes us to Thermopylae, Athens and Sphacteria. Basically, all of the primary places of prominent interest in Laconian history are visited in this film. One can almost imagine the Spartans standing in these locales some 2,400 years ago.During our journey thru Greece, Hughes offers a historical narrative of the brave Spartans, from the mythical times of the Trojan war to the apex of their prestige after the battle of Thermopylae. Hughes continues on throughout the pages of Greek history to the Peloponnesian War, the eventual defeat of Athens, the decline of Sparta and the ultimate defeat of the Lacedamons on the plains of Leuctria. Along the way, Hughes points out various aspects of the austere Spartan lifestyle, such as the brutal Agoge, the presence of homosexuality in the Spartan social norms, the conquest of Messenia and subsequent fate of the "Helot" class and much more.This is one of the most thorough documentaries on ancient Greece I have ever seen and is a must for people who even have so much as a passing interest in the mighty Spartans. It is also a nice "balancing" DVD as so many Greek documentaries tend to focus on Athens and more-or-less forget about Sparta.For those who would like another excellent documentary on Sparta, I would recommend the History Channel's RISE AND FALL OF THE SPARTAN EMPIRE. To date, I do not believe this DVD is available on, however. The History channel DVD and this PBS documentary complement each other superbly."
Cooking wears out, kissin' don't
Holy Olio | Grand Rapids, MI USA | 12/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

[preamble] After reading Plato's "Republic" early in my high school years, I realized that Plato's ideal society was what today we'd call fascism. Plato's "Republic" isn't a republic at all, it's mighty similar in fact to the Spartan system. Plato later expressed the wish that "either true and genuine philosophers attain political power or the rulers of states by some dispensation of providence become genuine philosophers." The appeal of being the brainy despot, sitting at the top, and ordering everyone around does have appeal, but that's not a good way to run a government. It is a good way to run a company though. ;') [end of preamble]
Sparta's system was based on the enslavement of neighboring towns, the development and maintenance of a warrior elite class, brutal training, eugenics, separation of the genders, and, as the narration says, a complete rejection of change. The disk goes into detail that frankly I wouldn't want young children to listen to, unless I wanted to scare them into obedience -- "behave, or I'll send you to Sparta!"
That said, even folks with no knowledge whatsoever of ancient Greece should enjoy this disk.
The detail on the disk of the Peloponnesian War (Sparta vs Athens) was particularly well chosen.
The location shots were mostly the scenes being discussed, beginning with the surviving Spartan monument at Thermopylae, and including Sparta itself, Athens, and other Greek locales. The quality of this production is very high.
Having also watched the PBS Empires Series disk "The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization", I'd have to say I much prefer "The Spartans". The brains behind the latter is interviewed for the former, but "The Greeks" just doesn't hold the attention like "The Spartans", which is well worth the few extra dollars.
This DVD is excellent. Despite its three hour duration, I watched it twice in two days, all the way through, and revisited specific segments a few more times. Bettany Hughes teases her way through the whole disk, which has plenty of shots of her walking away in tight jeans, or close ups of her face as she narrates. This is no reason to buy this, but it certainly is a nice unexpected bonus.
One problem I had may have been related to the cheap Daewoo player I used -- the picture was too wide for the TV screen. I wound up figuring that out during the second run-through, and set the player to 1/2 resolution, which worked fine on the 27 inch TV.