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Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance


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Frequently Bought Together

Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance + Power of The Past With Bill Moyers: Florence + Da Vinci and the Code He Lived By (History Channel)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Ross King, Mario Biagioli, Jerry Brotton, Marcello Fantoni, Dale Kent
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: April 5, 2005
  • Run Time: 220 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (247 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007KIFW8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,721 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Making of The Medici
  • Who's Who: key characters of the Renaissance

Editorial Reviews

From a small Italian community in 15th-century Florence, the Medici family would rise to rule Europe in many ways. Using charm, patronage, skill, duplicity and ruthlessness, they would amass unparalleled wealth and unprecedented power. They would also ignite the most important cultural and artistic revolution in Western history--the European Renaissance. But the forces of change the Medici helped unleash would one day topple their ordered world. An epic drama played out in the courts, cathedrals and palaces of Europe, this series is both the tale of one family's powerful ambition and of Europe's tortured struggle to emerge from the ravages of the dark ages.

Customer Reviews

I am a history buff, especially during the Renaissance period.
Pfeifer Mommy
A very informative documentary about one of Italy's most powerful families during the renaissance.
Kindle Customer
This was an interesting and very well done historical documentary.
Ray

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

176 of 180 people found the following review helpful By Center Man on March 1, 2004
Format: DVD
This four-hour documentary on the Medici has all of the series' strengths (high production values, excellent cinematography) and its great weakness of substituting simple conflict for historical analysis. You might get weary, as I did, of the implicit comparisons of the Renaissance banking family with the Coreleones, but that's relieved by a truly diverse selection of talking heads and viewpoints.

There are other problems, though. Nearly every entry in the "Empires" series has had difficulties with characterization, and "The Medici" is no different. Lorenzo de Medici, for example, is portrayed as an enlightened ruler, a public-minded human being and an art patron whose career was sabotaged by religious fundamentalism. You'd never know he covered his debts by stealing from the public treasury. Savonarola is accurately depicted as a puritanical maniac, but his appeal to Florence is never fully explained. One minute the Florentines are sipping grapa and discussing Platonic forms, the next they're tossing their copies of "The Republic" on a bonfire. For "The Medici," it's enough to show Lorenzo as a patron of learning, and Savonarola as a fundamentalist, creating a black and white conflict that dehumanizes both and makes a mockery of the competing and often contradicting strains of piety and humanism found in many Renaissance figures. It also makes ordinary Florentines look like dupes: Savonarola was a fanatic, but his Puritanical, anti-Medici sermons had resonance with a city that was tiring of Lorenzo's abuses.

The third episode on the Medici popes moves in a similar direction. This is the weakest of the bunch.
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77 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Walker VINE VOICE on March 11, 2004
Format: DVD
With this four hour documentary, and others in the series, PBS hopes to expose a wide audience to culturally and historically significant people and ideas. The Medici family, whose artistic patronage brought into existence much of what we now call "the Renaissance", and whose abuses of power likewise contributed to the Protestant Reformation, are certainly a worthy subject... but in the quest for mass market appeal, the filmmakers cut too many corners, making what could have been a true work of art into little more than interesting television.
First, the positives: the cinematography is stunning, the narration clear and factually accurate (although the narrator's voice is, to me, somewhat jarring), and the pacing of the story is superb. Additionally, great care was obviously taken to cast actors who actually resemble the historical figures, and keeping them silent only adds to the realism.
Sadly, this review does not end here, and I must point out the film's significant flaws. The characters are one-dimensional - we see only Cosimo the enlightened ruler, Giovanni the power-hungry, and Savonarola the fanatic, while all these men were more complicated (and therefore more interesting) than they are presented. Also, while the spoken words are factual, some of the images they accompany are not: we see a Florentine skyline containing buildings not yet built, we see a peasant girl sitting on stairs reading Luther's theses in the Latin... if I can catch these inaccuracies, one wonders how many a serious scholar would notice!
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 19, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
THE MEDICI: GODFATHERS OF THE RENAISSANCE is a four-hour docudrama that is at once entertaining and educational. Using the technique of contemporary seated scholars in discussion with the viewer interspersed with actors playing the roles of the peoples of Florence and Rome and the famous Medici family that spanned three centuries of control and influence in Italy, this highly entertaining and beautifully photographed history lesson is a valuable addition to schools, historians, and lovers of history and biography.
The Medici family was a mercantile line that amassed enough wealth to be able to live (and even become) royally. The Medicis are attributed with the advent of the Renaissance, having been the patrons of the greats of Western Art and Science, not the least of which are Michelangelo, Botticelli, da Vinci, Vasari, Bruneschelli, and Galileo. But patronage of the arts was not their only forte: through sheer power they were able to produce two popes (Leo and Clement)and it was through the debauchery and power of Leo, bankrupting the papacy with his earthly appetites, that the use of Papal Indulgences (anyone could 'purchase' redemption for a price that fed the papal coffers) that was the immediate cause driving Martin Luther to initiate the Reformation.
Along the 4 hours of this DVD we are introduced to Savoranola, Machiavelli, Pope Julius II, and the various fighting factions of Florence Italy wherein the Medicis held court for over 200 years. Despite the recorded evils of this infamous family, they were enlightened (especially Lorenzo the Magnificent) to see the gifts of Michelangelo, da Vinci, etc and were it not for their patronage we may never have had the beauties of the statues David, Pieta, the Medici tombs, or the Sistine chapel frescoes to mention only a few.
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Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
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