Simon Schama begins Civilisations with this premise: that it is in art - the play of the creative imagination - that humanity expresses its most essential self: the power to break the tyranny of the humdrum, the grind of everyday.
Simon Schama explores one of our deepest artistic urges - the depiction of nature. Simon discovers that landscape painting is seldom a straightforward description of observed nature - rather it is a projection of dreams and idylls, as well as of escapes and refuges from human turmoil, the elusive paradise on earth.
2018 • History
If David Olusoga's first film in Civilisations is about the art that followed and reflected early encounters between different cultures, his second explores the artistic reaction to imperialism in the 19th century. David shows the growing ambivalence with which artists reacted to the idea of progress, both intellectual and scientific, that underpinned the imperial mission and followed the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.
2018 • History
From Roman marbles and Egyptian mummies to Renaissance masterpieces and African sculptures, in this special accompanying programme to Civilisations, Mary Beard goes in search of extraordinary works of art from all over the world that can be seen here in Britain.
2018 • History
Albert Speer - Hitler's architect, arms minister and only friend. After the war, he became the Nazi who said sorry, even for the crimes he claimed had been kept secret from him. Was his remorse genuine, or did he know more than he admitted, still proud of his meteoric career under Hitler?
He continues his personal account of Britain's empire by looking at how traders, conquerors and settlers spread the British way of doing things around the world - in particular how they created a very British idea of home. He begins in India, where early traders wore Indian costume and took Indian wives. Their descendants still cherish their mixed heritage. Victorian values put a stop to that as inter racial mixing became taboo. In Singapore he visits a club where British colonials gathered together, in Canada he finds a town whose inhabitants are still fiercely proud of the traditions of their Scottish ancestors, in Kenya he meets the descendants of the first white settlers - men whose presence came to be bitterly resented as pressure for African independence grew. And he traces the story of an Indian family in Leicester whose migrations have been determined by the changing fortunes of the British empire.
Many people believe the Hiroshima atomic bomb instantly incinerated nearly everyone in the Japanese city. That was true at ground zero, but not everywhere. Hiroshima government officials have been tirelessly collecting records on those killed to find out how they died. Using this "big data", NHK created a visualization of the movements of the 557,000 victims of the 6th August 1945 attack. Some did indeed perish instantly. Others burned to death in collapsed buildings. But what about the people who died in a strange "donut zone of death" days after the bombing and in areas more than 2 kilometers from ground zero? This documentary goes beyond big data to provide heart-rending accounts from people close to victims and survivors, revealing the true story of what happened on that dark day more than 70 years ago.
2017 • History
A rapid-fire history of our world, from the beginning of time as we know it to present day. This two-hour CGI-driven special delves into the key turning points: the formation of earth, emergence of life, spread of man and the growth of civilization - and reveals their surprising connections to our world today.
2011 • History
In the Andes, the Spanish open up the largest silver mine in the world – and mint millions of pesos de ocho (pieces of eight). These coins transform the global economy. They fill the treasure chests of pirates. They fuel a stock market boom. They help pay for the Taj Mahal. As trade booms, millions of people come to the New World as slaves. But a handful of Pilgrims come as pioneers – looking for freedom.
Louis XI of France faced a formidable range of enemies when he ascended the throne. English kings and Burgundian dukes had eyes for the monarchy of France. This is the story of how Louis battled, schemed, bribed and even arranged marriages, all in a quest to keep his kingdom.