Top positive review
63 people found this helpful
on July 30, 2012
This is a fascinating and superb series that very colorfully and entertainingly covers the entire history of England, from pre-Roman times to the 1950s, via the village(s) of Kibworth in the county of Leicestershire. Through various means -- archeological, documents, topographical studies, and local and oral history -- we find out the true story of real and ordinary people. History comes vividly alive in a way that the endless successive repetition of wars, monarchs, and squabbling aristocrats never can.
We are never patronized or asked to indulge in glorious fantasies here. History is told via the words of the people themselves -- through, for instance the amazingly in-depth documents and scholarship that have been preserved throughout the centuries in this uniquely placed village. As it turns out, there's a lot more here than even remotely meets the eye. We get a much fuller and more comprehensive and understandable history of this England than I ever would have thought possible.
The great thing about this series is that it was aimed for a British audience but it's so clearly understandable and tangible that Americans and any other nationality can easily understand it as well.
The series is gloriously and beautifully filmed and scored, and Michael Wood is an unfailingly charming, engaging, charismatic, and knowledgeable presenter.
I promise you will learn much more than you ever thought you didn't know about English history. If, for instance, you are a fan of the films of Ken Burns, or Michael Wood's other programs (e.g., The Story of India), or Simon Schama, you are sure to love this series.
By the way, this is the FULL original UK version, that aired on the BBC. Unfortunately, when it aired on PBS, it was severely butchered to the point of incomprehensibility and was missing missing 40% of the footage (two hours and two episodes) and the timeframes were all mixed up and confused. (The same goes for the streaming video version viewable on pbs.org.) Rest assured that the DVD set, however, is the full thing, and it's definitely worth the purchase price to be able to see the entire unbutchered series, complete with all of the extremely relevant information that was cut when it was televised here.
(The only thing disappointing about this series is the subtitles -- or rather lack thereof. I do not at all recommend it for the deaf or hearing impaired, because the subtitles are so ridiculously incorrect and botched up as to be worse than useless. That's the same case with the Region 2 version, so there's no help there either.)