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
In 1944 America and Britain in the West and Russia in the East began to close their pincer around Germany. But even now, the outcome was in the balance. The film explores the Allied disaster at Arnhem and the tragedy of the Warsaw uprising, when Polish freedom fighters were abandoned to their fate by Stalin. It tells the shocking story of the Liberation of the death camps, when the full extent of the Holocaust became clear for the first time. The film ends with Hitler's last great gamble, as he threw all his last reserves against the oncoming Allied forces in the Ardennes.
Alastair concludes the epic story of Egyptian art by looking at how, despite political decline, the final era of the Egyptian Empire saw its art enjoy revival and rebirth. From the colossal statues of Rameses II that proclaimed the pharaoh's power to the final flourishes under Queen Cleopatra, Sooke discovers that the subsequent invasions by foreign rulers from the Nubians to Alexander the Great and the Romans produced a new hybrid art full of surprise. He also unearths a seam of astonishing satirical work, produced by ordinary men, that continues to inspire Egypt's graffiti artists today.
In France, perfidy and treason plunge the French Kingdom into chaos. Behind new king Charles IX, Catherine de Medici rules in the background as master of the throne. However, she is unable to prevent a civil war.
S2E3 • The Real War of Thrones: The True History of Europe • 2018 • History
Bettany Hughes' series profiling the most celebrated thinkers of the Ancient world continues as she turns her attention to Socrates. Heading to Greece, she details how the Athenian philosopher secured a reputation as an influential maverick. She also highlights how his contributions as one of the founders of Western philosophy did not please his detractors, as his outspoken defence of his beliefs ultimately led to his execution.