"I want to respond to the many posts about the ethnicity of the Great Khan. For the record, many of those who are having a hissy fit over him being presented as a caucasiod are doing so out of ignorance. Arab chroniclers described him in great detail: red hair, fairly large (6 footish), green eyes and fair skin. The same goes for Tamerlane (Timur the Lame) more or less. There are several books that describe this. And his hordes weren't all Asiatics because many were descendants of the Sarmatians and even earlier the Scythians who were the first horse culture in basically the same region. They were blondes and dressed much like the later Germanic tribes as did the Sarmatians and a recent discovery in western China - the Tocharians (blondes & Nordic, Germanic-Celtic weaving/clothing, quite tall) - more commonly referred too as the 'Tarim Basin Mummies'. Both PBS and Discovery have DVDs and VHS tapes on this discovery as does the Journal of Indo-European Studies covers it.
The DVD was all right. I've seen better."
Not as bad as others make it sound
N. Thomas | 10/11/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"So, okay -- having Mongols depicted by actors who could have been anything from Hispanic to Caucasian and certainly not "authentic" Asians is relatively horrible, considering there cannot be a dearth of Asian/Asian-American actors who could have portrayed Genghis (or JENgis, as several of the historical experts were calling him in the program) far more realistically.
Still, the History Channel did a commendable job of exploring the histories of the Vikings, Huns, Mongols, and Goths in this program. While I cannot verify whether all the information provided is completely accurate, I doubt there are as many hugely glaring errors as other critics would make one believe.
My only disappointment is that there were still unanswered questions about several things after having watched this series. The name HUN -- is it related to the HAN dynasty of China that drove them westward...? And what's the difference between an Ostrogoth and a Visigoth -- geography alone, or more? How did Kublai Kahn fit into the blood-drenched history of the Mongols?
Finally, I would have liked seeing even a little coverage of other barbarous European tribes such as the Vandals, Gauls, Picts, Angles, Saxons, and Burgundians.
At the end of the day "Barbarians" presents a decent documentary on a subject heretofore not covered and I found it largely enjoyable and educational."
Entertaining, while educating as well
Sargon | 06/18/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Barbarians is a big budget history channel miniseries that covers 4 of the better known "barbarian" peoples of history. The Goths, The Mongols, The hun, and the Vikings (a documentary on Ghengis Khan is thrown in as a bonus... one wonders why they did not include one on atilla as well seeing as how the history channel has such a documentary on atilla that it airs all the time). Many have heard of them and knwo something about them, but few really know who they were as a people. The series does a beautiful job illustrating the commercialization of the history channel and discovery channel today. The series is very entertaining, but the focus on entertainment and on popular appeal overpowers it's historical accuracy and it's determination to cover the topics at hand. The series is a lot of fun, but tries to be a bit too main stream. This is why it has so many bad reviews. The episode on the mongols is hands down my favorite, while the rest of the series does a good enough job. I will give this 4 stars because I did in fact enjoy the series, but I will also agree this could have been MUCH better, and had much more substance. Not enough information is given, and the maps, while good, are used sparingly. There's only a few battles covered, and the ones that are covered arent covered with as much detail as other documentaries. This is more an overview than anything else... dont expect to come away with a real understanding of history after watching this... you'll have learned some things, and enjoyed it... but too much is skipped and ignored. The only mongol leaders covered are Chengis Khan and Tamerlane, what about the many other important khans and khanates? No real depth is present, and there is so much facinating stuff left out (the planned mongol invasion of europe... the possabillity the mongols may have caused the plague in europe by tossing corpses over city walls during a seige... kublai khans failed invasion of japan... and many of the religious and cultural and social dimensions of mongol expansion arent discussed in any detail. The other episodes are lacking in similar ways.I suppose I must rate this for what it is though. And it obviously wasnt meant to be comprehensive or far reaching. it was meant to be a fun overview of barbarian peoples, and consequently there is little quality of information and lots of attention paid to style and ratings. Barbarians is soundly centered on entertaing rather than being a serious historical endeaver. I would have liked to have seen what this series could have been if it really explored these peoples fully and gave detailed accounts of history and the battles, but for what it is, I did still enjoy the series enough to buy it."
Not a masterpiece but a great starting point
Federico Rossignoli | Argentina | 06/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Overall, it is a good dvd that in less than 4 hours puts the viewer in a time and space context. If you listen to the story it tells rather than look for mistakes (wether the race of the actors is correct, etc) you'll start to conect names of tribes (huns, vikings, etc.) and dates with other civilizations that are better known (romans, etc). Take a look at it."
Bernard Chapin | CHICAGO! USA | 08/16/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, I've always liked the History Channel's documentaries over the years and this is one of my favorite productions. The only thing I'll say about buying it is that the episodes are too short with commercial lapses built into their structure--by this I mean they'll fade out of a scene and then fade back via the repetition of a small segment of tape. This can get a little annoying if you're watching them all in a row. The fact is though, I don't have time to read separate books on the Vikings, the Huns, and the Visigoths so I appreciate the insight that this collection provides. They're well done and very educational. I'm not sure why some people reviewed them so poorly here."