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Simon Schama: A History of Britain: Special Edition


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Simon Schama: A History of Britain: Special Edition + A History of Scotland + The Story of Ireland (2011)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Box set, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Canadian Home Video Rating : Parental Guidance (PG)
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: Aug. 17 2010
  • Run Time: 882 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003K025Z0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,104 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Product Description

Simon Schama: A History Britain: Special Edition (DVD)

Amazon.ca

What do you get when you combine the resources and ethos of the BBC with the literary panache of one of the world's best narrative historians? The answer is Simon Schama's History of Britain television series. In this well-written and thoughtfully crafted survey, Schama, the bestselling author of books on European cultural history such as The Embarrassment of Riches and Citizens, has managed to be both conventional and provocative. He tells the official version of Britain's story--Roman Britain, the Norman Conquest, the struggles of the Henrys and Richards, Elizabeth I, Scottish rebellions and the English Civil Wars, the American Revolution, the growth of the British Empire, Queen Victoria, the industrial age, and Winston Churchill. But while sticking to a script familiar to anyone who sat up and listened during history class, Schama brings it all alive with memorable prose and presence--Simon de Montfort's rebel parliament is described as inaugurating the "union between patriotism and insubordination"; with Henry VIII, Schama says, "you could practically smell the testosterone." Schama is also particularly enlightening on the symbolism of buildings, memorials, language, and ceremonies, and on the complex relations between England and its Celtic and Catholic neighbors. If history must have gloss, then let it be presented like this. --Miles Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By JR Pinto on March 25 2004
Format: DVD
A History of Britain is a wonderful but pricey treat for any fan of British history. Some of the negative reviews complain that it is too superficial. How, I would ask, can you give a COMPLETE history of a country that spans 5,000 years? The collection consists of 15 hour-long documentaries starting from Britain's earliest past, five-thousand years ago. We see the still-standing stone communities where the ancient British dwelled.
Of course, Simon Schama must be selective in what he chooses to discuss. Each episode has a theme. Although all the major points of British history are touched upon, Schama will focus on the most interesting bits of each event - how and why they happened and what they meant. He tries to give us a sense of reasons behind historical events and not just dates and places. My favorite episode deals with Henry II - arguably England's greatest and most under-appreciated monarch. We see his troubles with Thomas a Beckett. Schama re-creates, in vivid detail, what the "Murder in the Cathedral" was like: Beckett was not a plaster saint, but a street-wise tough kid from the wrong side of the docks who fearlessly faced down his murderers.
Visually, the series shows some re-enactments with actors. There are many voice-over readings of historical documents. Schama is the only featured performer. He takes you to the various places and narrates in a very distinctive, clipped manner of speaking. Ultimately, it is the shots of the timeless Britain that are the most effective - the hills, the meadows, and especially the sea. These are the bits that have remained the same and convey the greatest feeling of history.
I can't imagine anybody not being fascinated by this program. They are very re-watchable. Having examined them, you will feel a much deeper understanding of British history - and indeed world history. Perhaps no other country has a story as fascinating, as rich, or as varied as Britain's. Watch this and you will know why.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By June on Sept. 3 2009
Format: DVD
The history of Britain is great for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of the last two thousand years of British history. Brian Schama is entertaining and reasonably thorough in his approach. Only complaint is that there a somewhat strong reliance on pictures, artifacts and scenic locales. Most likely all that can be done when you are dealing with historical data unless there were re-enactments which is not the focus of this material.

Overall if you want a better understanding of British history in chronological order - this is it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By hmshood on Dec 8 2003
Format: DVD
Thank you Simon Schama and everyone else involved in making these documentaries and releasing them on DVD. Five discs dealing with the history of Great Britain from 3100 BC to the 20th century. You get to find the true story behind the man Mel Gibson played in Braveheart. You get to know all about all the major kings and queens that shaped the UK. You get to know all about the invasions by the Roman Empire and the Vikings and what impact that had on the Britons. Winston Churchill, Oliver Cromwell and George Orwell are here. There's a documentary on the effect the Plague (Started in 1348) had on England. This is an awesome boxset and well worth the price thanks to Simon and company. I could not have asked for any better, But I wish Simon would do a three or four hour documentary that went into the details of the Falklands war. It would be cool if he did the same for the British side of the story of WWII and WWI. Anyways he did a superb job on this, I am just most fascinated with the conflicts of the 20th century. I don't like movies based on conflicts that happened so long ago but documentaries is a different story. Simon makes it so interesting. Thank you Simon for all your hard work in getting this job done. I really appreciate it. Cheers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Anstey on March 4 2009
Format: DVD
A great series. I bought this after thoroughly enjoying Schama's "Power of Art". I wasn't disappointed. Its a fascinating tour of British history brought to life through excellent narration.

The only negative I can think of is that it really doesn't describe a lot about pre-Roman Britain. I also wish it was longer so that it could further explore some of the events and themes that are glossed over (by necessity) in this series.

But overall a fascinating series that gives me a new appreciation for the Old Country.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Mir on April 19 2003
Format: DVD
Unlike James Burke whose popular connections series made no apologies for appealing to a mass audience, Professor Schama lays out the subject matter and simply assumes one can "keep up". And indeed, one can. It is a brilliant overview of the History of Britain; moreover, the visual combination of still photos and comtemporary video is mixed nicely throughout. Best viewed with a straight shot of Midelton and a pint of Stout.
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Format: DVD
About the program:
I understand that there is, of course, no archival film footage of medieval England, so the visual aspect of these programs had to be created from nothing, but some of the choices are questionable. Yes, we get a lots of landscape pictures (sped up Koyaanisqatsi-style so we can see all the clouds go zooming by, over and over again), but we also get closeups of hawks flying, wolves fighting, etc--images that just don't fit with the content we hear.
About the DVD:
There are neither captions nor subtitles. This is unacceptable, especially for educational material.
There are no extras. The box has to list chapter selection and interactive menus to cover up its lack of bonus materials. The only actual extra is some biographical text screens on historical figures. This sounds better than it is. The first disc, containing the first three episodes, sports but one biography--hardly enough when many important figures are featured in the first three installments.
I might find this lack of extras forgivable (the series itself is quite well-done afterall, despite my annoyance with the visuals), except that the British version of this title has a whole 'nother disc filled with bonus material. I wish I had gotten that one, and, if you play region 2 DVDs and PAL, you might want to look at amazon.co.uk.
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