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In Their Own Words

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Educational Brit Lit with awesome retro BBC footage Jan. 28 2012
By Harold Wolf - Published on
This documentary/educational set is a two-part feast for intellectuals. Not only does it delve into what some of the greatest UK minds were thinking, but actually give archived footage of them expounding their ideas and pursuits. As a result, some footage is B/W, especially early 20th Century clips but what a treasure to get to see and listen to these deceased greats during the height of their glory. Viewers get stills, audio, and film footage of writers, intellectuals, revolutionists, and all facets between when a single person had a new idea that made a significant difference in society. BBC (the Beeb) founded 1922, began TV in 1936.

SDH SUBTITLES available.
DISC 1 is "British Novelists." This disc of 3 episodes, 175 min., alone is worthy of the set. Every HS through university should have it available, no-required viewing. And it's so enjoyable, students will be delighted. Better than any lecture. Here directly, and see with you own eyes these prolific UK authors (1919-1990). You'll notice, many of these author's great novels have been BBC adapted and are available on DVD as well as books.
===Episode 1, AMONG THE RUINS 1919-39: WWI aftermath via British writers, narration and archival footage, talk of the past and the issues set in text. HC Wells; Bloomsbury Group, EM Forster, Virginia Wolf; see awesome 1920s party footage; live interviews of: Cartland (700 post war novels), PG Wodehouse (Wooster & Jeeves), Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited), Elizabeth Bowen, Jean Rhys (Wide Sargasso Sea), Robert Graves (I, Claudius), TH White, Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), Geo. Orwell (1984), Graham Green.
===Ep 2, THE AGE OF ANXIETY 1945-69: 1950s began reinventing the novel form in UK. Good & evil. See/hear: JRR Tolkiem (Lord of the Rings), Wm Golding (Lord of the Flies), Iris Murdoch (Under the Net), Kingsley Amis (Lucky Jim), John Braine (Room at the Top), "Angry Young Men" writer group's gritty new looks at working class, Ian Fleming (James Bond) after Brit immigrant prejudice in novels comes the Cold War influences, John Le Carre (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker Taylor Solder Spy), Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange).
===Ep 3, nothing sacred, 1970-90: Movements rose and fell as Brit novelists recorded lingering moments of society. Angela Carter (Feminist), Fey Weldon (women), Salman Rushdie (multicultural, Midnights Children, The Satanic Verses), adolescence novelists Martin Amis (The Rachel Papers) & Ian McEwan (The Cement Garden).
You'll be heading for the library fiction section fast.

DISC 2 is "Great Thinkers." Again it looks at the people whose minds made changes in society during 1919-90. 176 minutes in 3 episodes. A must see for students of education, behavioral sciences, and psychology--probably more.
===Ep 1, HUMAN, ALL TOO HUMAN: It's about humanity, and how best to define that, and how to address inhumanity. Who is responsible? Hear and see: Sigmund Freud (unconscious), Margaret Mead (adolescents) & then Freeman's rebuke, Carl Gustov Jung (individuation), Stanley Milgram (cruality), RD Laing (insanity-labeling), Dr Benjamin Spock (parenting), BF Skinner (behaviorism), Desmond Morris (The Naked Ape), Jane Goodall (chimps), Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene).
===Ep 2, THE GRAND EXPERIMENT: post WWII investment strategy to match war spending. Will it make a workable peacetime society? Marxist, Tariq Ali (revolutionist), Isaiah Berlin (liberalist), Bloomsbury Group's Bertrand Russell (math activist) & John M Keynes (Grand Experiment), Sir Wm Beveridge (social security plan-welfare state), Germaine Greer (Feminist), Milton Friedman & Keith Joseph on 1970's monetarism, reducing $$ flow-opposing post WWII plan. The cycle and quest of solid economics goes on.
=== Ep 3, THE CULTURE WARS: redefinition of `culture in 20th century spurred by media. The common masses get to taste arts and more. Interviews and looks at: John Reith (BBC head promoting arts to all), FR Leavis (Cambridge, elitist, literature), CP Snow (Cambridge, novelist opposed to Leavis). Common life aspects began to assimilate into culture. Raymond Williams (Cambridge, culture whole life), Richard Hoggart (Hull, urban working class, "Cultural Studies"). Then the 60's-70's UK culture influenced by US. Marshall McLuhan ("The Medium is the Message"), Kenneth Clark (BBC TVs `Civilization' high culture), CLR James writer/activist), Stuart Hall (80's multiculture theorist).

Bonus text bios on each disc and `A Viewer's Guide' booklet.
This is a first class, intellectual, documentary, but done at a level anyone can enjoy. View it and be educated entertainingly. Sorry, it's a long review, but this is one packed mind-expanding set.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"Fool! Nothing but black ink runs through my veins!" June 29 2013
By Megan Hewins - Published on
Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this DVD set. I purchased it primarily for the first disc that focuses on authors, but was equally entertained by the second disc that focuses on "Great Thinkers." I felt that the first episode on disc 1 was a little tedious. Mostly, because it covers a time period that contained a great number of authors who are now considered canonical giants whose stories are familiar to everyone.

However, after episode 1, the series continued on through the decades to many authors and books I'd never encountered before. Each section focuses strictly toward authors who were the voices of their generation. The authors are explored in the context of the era they wrote in. This particular lens provides a great deal of insight for those of us who weren't around to experience those eras. I came away from the series with substantial additions to my "to read" list.

My only complaint about the series is the price. 44 dollars (at the time of this review) is absurd. Amazon Instant Video also offers the series at about half the price for the whole season or purchasable per episode: British Novelists: Among the Ruins, 1919-1939 - but even this option seems too steep. I purchased mine used from one of the Amazon sellers for less than the Instant Video price, but am still frustrated that quality educational entertainment is made elitist by this kind of high price structure. The series was not available anywhere else online, and while I enjoyed it immensely, it's not the kind of show likely to be re-watched often enough to justify its high price. I strongly suggest checking to see if it's available at your local library first, and/or requesting it for future purchase by your local library.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Highly educational. April 14 2014
By Jon Wynne - Published on
IN THEIR OWN WORDS is a real curio. At times absolutely fascinating because of its presentation of archival interviews with great intellectuals of the 20th-Century, and equally frustrating at its hodgepodge approach to presenting the themes suggested (or is that dictated) by the available interviews, IN THEIR OWN WORDS isn’t strictly what its title suggests. When listening to the only surviving voice recording of Virginian Woolf, or J.R.R. Tolkien reading in his invented LORD OF THE RINGS language, the series is captivating. When listening to “great thinkers” such as John Maynard Keynes talking about economics, the appeal is perhaps less obvious.

At six episodes and 351 minutes in length, it may be that the viewer has to pick and choose from among the many interviews and film clips to find what interests most. Fortunately this is easily done with the help of the 16-page viewer’s guide which gives the backgrounds of the various authors, activists and intellectuals who are on hand.

Still, it must be remembered that programs of this type are going to have limited appeal to begin with. That they are created and made available at all, through specialized distributors such as Athena (a sub-group of Acorn Media), is something to be commended. This is the type of programming that has considerable historical and educational value, but it is not for everyone. There is no doubting, however, the need for this type of product and for that, as well as the captioning and superb packaging, one must be thankful.

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