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Cities of Light (DVD)


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Cities of Light (DVD) + WHEN THE MOORS RULED IN EUROPE
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Product Details

  • Actors: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Brian Catlos, Chris Lowney, Mustapha Kamal
  • Directors: Robert Gardner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, NTSC, Widescreen, Digital Sound
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Unity Productions Foundation
  • DVD Release Date: September 1, 2007
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0979885701
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,507 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain takes viewers on an epic journey back into one of the most fascinating and important periods of world history. It tells a story of vital importance for our contemporary world about the triumphs and shortcomings, achievements and ultimate failures of a centuries-long period when Muslims, Christians, and Jews inhabited the same far corner of Western Europe and built a society that lit the Dark Ages.
The lemon tree, the water wheel, and Aristotle's lost philosophy all arrived in Europe through Islamic Spain, as did algebra and the beginnings of modern medicine, science, and poetry. Here were the very roots of the European Renaissance.
All this was the legacy of a diverse society that managed to create a culture of light in a time of general darkness and ignorance in Europe. Cities of Light shows how it was possible for Muslims, Christians, and Jews to co-exist and thrive together-and yet how fragile that union can be when religious extremism begins to rise. The glories of Islamic Spain are beautifully rendered, but the film does not flinch when vividly portraying the violence and horror that ultimately engulfed it-violence that seems similar to what we witness today.
The world is at a crossroads. Exploring the vibrant history of Islamic Spain could not be more important as we confront the profound political, strategic, and ethical challenges that will determine issues of war and peace for generations to come.
The history of Islamic Spain demonstrates that when religious diversity is accommodated within a social and political system, problems and tensions may still exist, but society is able to successfully manage them, generally to the benefit of all. But when a power system or religious movement rejects complexity and insists on a single cultural and religiously-centered point of view, then society is likely to come to grief with everyone losing something.

About the Director

Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain takes viewers on an epic journey back into one of the most fascinating and important periods of world history. It tells a story of vital importance for our contemporary world about the triumphs and shortcomings, achievements and ultimate failures of a centuries-long period when Muslims, Christians, and Jews inhabited the same far corner of Western Europe and built a society that lit the Dark Ages.
The lemon tree, the water wheel, and Aristotle’s lost philosophy all arrived in Europe through Islamic Spain, as did algebra and the beginnings of modern medicine, science, and poetry. Here were the very roots of the European Renaissance.
All this was the legacy of a diverse society that managed to create a culture of light in a time of general darkness and ignorance in Europe. Cities of Light shows how it was possible for Muslims, Christians, and Jews to co-exist and thrive together—and yet how fragile that union can be when religious extremism begins to rise. The glories of Islamic Spain are beautifully rendered, but the film does not flinch when vividly portraying the violence and horror that ultimately engulfed it—violence that seems similar to what we witness today.
The world is at a crossroads. Exploring the vibrant history of Islamic Spain could not be more important as we confront the profound political, strategic, and ethical challenges that will determine issues of war and peace for generations to come.
The history of Islamic Spain demonstrates that when religious diversity is accommodated within a social and political system, problems and tensions may still exist, but society is able to successfully manage them, generally to the benefit of all. But when a power system or religious movement rejects complexity and insists on a single cultural and religiously-centered point of view, then society is likely to come to grief with everyone losing something.

Customer Reviews

Good historic documentary and beautifully filmed.
Elsbet R. Brosky
Loved this DVD when it was on cable and knew after visiting Spain that I had to purchase it!!
Fancyfeast
I would recommend this film as a study tool for students of Islamic History in Spain.
Henry Wisniewski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Diego Banducci on May 25, 2010
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Although it doesn't say so, either on the screen credits or the package, this video uses a lot of material from the History Channel, and is of comparable quality.

What it describes is the Golden Age of Medieval Spain when Christians, Moslems and Jews lived together in harmony, resulting in a flowering of art and achitecture and substantial economic growth. Then Ferdinand and Isabella began their own reign of terror, kicking out the Muslims and Jews and initiating the Inquisition, and Spain (similar to Italy's experience post-Galileo) became a scientific and economic backwater.

The best part of this video is the scholarly commentary by experts from Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and non-sectarian institutions, effectively replicating the diversity and tolerance of Moorish Spain.

Highly recommended.

Warning: There is another video on the same topic, When the Moors Ruled in Europe. It is not as good as this video.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Henry Wisniewski on November 23, 2012
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This film is a balanced overview of the history of Islam in Spain. In fact, it provides an accurate historical account with the mostly positive contributions of Muslims to a civilized society and one which practiced tolerance for Jews and Christians. At the same time, it does not overlook actions by a minority of extremists who sought to destroy tolerance at certain historical periods. One must remember Islam existed in Spain for some 700-800 years. I would recommend this film as a study tool for students of Islamic History in Spain.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Erik on September 7, 2012
First of all, this is a documentary that stands out for its cinematography and its editing. It's wonderfully crafted and feels very cinematic without coming off as gaudy or too Hollywood. The people who are interviewed are knowledgeable experts in their field and provide much insight into the historical facts that the documentary presents. The only thing that I felt held back the documentary was the fact that the film focused more on the utopian moments of cultural interaction and influence and didn't put a lot of time into discussing the political history of the Iberian Peninsula.

While Andalusia was one of the centers of development of intellectual and artistic thought in the Medieval Era and a convergence point of learning by various world religions, in this case the three particular Abrahamic faiths, this does not mean there was not political drama even in this pluralistic environment. Rulers on both sides could and would exact ruthless vengeance on anyone they felt it necessary for. Even in Andalusia under Muslim rule, Christians could be executed if felt they blasphemed the Muslim faith by the rulers there and the Muslim rulers weren't by any means averse to laying down their law on the Muslims in their territories. Insurrections, followed by bloody executions of dozens or even hundreds of people, were not any less uncommon in the lands ruled by the Muslims, Spain or elsewhere, than in the lands ruled by their Christian counterparts. It felt to me like some important characterization of the Muslim rulers in Spain at the time was overlooked in the documentaries focus on intellectual personalities.

But of course, that is the real charm of this documentary. This documentary isn't an overview of the political history of that region or time period.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 10, 2011
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very interesting unfortunately it is not possible to watch it in Spain on the TV as it is only made for Stateside viewing. Perhaps you could change that or at least write it on the information about the DVD. I watched it on my Computer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Garren on December 30, 2013
This is the most balanced and fair documentary I have ever seen on this subject. I use it every semester in my college level classes. All other programming I have ever found seems to want to follow the age-old story-line of how awful the Muslims were and how the Christians liberated Spain, when that isn't even remotely close to the truth. Even while getting my MA degree this period of history was mostly ignored by the department. I spent hours talking to my professors privately about it since for some reason schools don't seem to want to teach about the cultural Golden Age for Muslims and Jews and Andalusian Christians. Even outside of Spain this time is known as the Golden Age in Jewish and Islamic culture.

This video at least brings something to balance out 1000 years of bias.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thalia Johnson on July 18, 2013
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I enjoyed this and did feel it gave me an introduction to a fascinating period in Spanish history. It is a good quick introduction. Would have liked more information about poetry, music and art, including samples of the music and poetry.
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This is my first year teaching 7th grade history and since our textbook covers material very quickly and not in much depth, I am always looking for supplemental material.

This was perfect to help cover the chapters on Islamic history. It provided wonderful detail, highlighted the architecture, and areas discussed and was at an appropriate level for my middle school students. The only downside was that we were unable to access the captions. I'm hard of hearing and my students kept asking me how to spell the names of people or to go back so that they could get the details right for their notes. Without the closed captioning available, it made it difficult to provide accurate information to my students.

In addition, PBS on-line had a wonderful lesson plan to highlight the information. My students enjoyed the film. The only catch is that it is quite long. With only a 45 minute class period, it took us over a week to view and discuss this one film.
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