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Persepolis: Re-Discovering the Ancient Persian Capital of Modern Day Iran (2009)

Gotz Balonier , Gotz Balonier  |  NR |  DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Gotz Balonier
  • Directors: Gotz Balonier
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • 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: KULTUR VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: February 24, 2009
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,519 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

It was probably the greatest construction project of antiquity: in 520 B.C. King Darius I of the Achaemenids had a forty-acre terrace piled up at the foot of the Kuh-e-Rahmat the Mount of Mercy in the central Persian plateau. Here the new capital of the Persian Empire was to arise: Parsa, or Persepolis. Architects, craftsmen and artists from all the corners of a world empire that extended over three continents, from Indus to the Black Sea, from the Caspian Sea to Ethiopia, were mobilized to construct a magnificent city.

This program reconstructs the imposing site. The architects Wolfgang Gambke and Kourosh Afhami rebuilt Persepolis virtually with an animation program also used by architects and urban planners. Working on this project for several years, they produced several thousand outlines, details, structures. Not only does the documentary breathe life into the splendor of Persepolis, it also recreates a picture of a world empire which was exemplary in its organization and administration. And what was perhaps its most important feature: a realm whose inhabitants, even in the conquered regions, could rely on tolerance in questions of faith and, to a certain extent, on the rule of law. After his soldiers had pillaged the terraces of Persepolis and burnt it to the ground, Alexander visited the ruins and is said to have repented the destruction.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Filmmaker Gotz Balonier and his team spend most of their time exploring the ruins of Persepolis which was a stunning metropolis under the reign of its founder, Darius I of the Achaemenid dynasty, and his successors. To their credit, Balonier and his collaborators succeed in highlighting some of the key features of the Persian Empire that help their audience better understand the context surrounding the foundation and extension of Persepolis. The Persian Empire, the world's only superpower for two centuries, stood out among other things for the efficiency of its organization and management, its religious and cultural tolerance, and to some extent, its rule of law. Modern day Iranians can look back with both pride and humility at the exploits of their ancestors.

The DVD under review greatly benefits from the computer-generated rebuilding of Persepolis under the direction of architects Wolfgang Gambke and Kourosh Afhami. This stunning animation program is of great help to "reconstruct" the layout and the landmarks of Persepolis that the soldiers of Alexander the Great destroyed in 330 BCE for reasons that are not totally clear to this day. Persepolis still has many secrets to reveal, despite the fact that its scientific restoration started in 1931 CE.

Viewers can use "Persepolis Rediscovering the Lost Capital of the Persian Empire" for planning a future journey to Persepolis or reminiscing about their visit to the ancient imperial capital. Nothing, not even this excellent DVD, can replace the sensorial experience that I gained while I was meandering among the ruins of Persepolis. As a side note, "Engineering an Empire" by The History Channel and "Secrets of Archaeology" by Koch Vision each contains a segment about the Persians and Persepolis.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great looking poor naration April 25, 2010
This video has good photography and great computer animation but it is hard to sit through because of poor narration. I am guessing that it was remastered from a German production. Because of this, the speed which the narrators cover the material does not match up with the footage. So, most scenes have several seconds of silence or the discussion is not perfectly in sync with the video. As others commented there is not much history about the Persian leaders (Darius, Xerxes and Artaxerxes are mentioned but not really discussed) or the Persian empire (but there are a few shots of buildings and art from Susa, Babylon and Chogha Zanbil). So, don't count on this for an introduction to the Persian empire.

In short, this video does give a feel for the grandeur of the site but it could be much better.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Limited digital reconstruction May 20, 2010
By Diotima
This is a German production. The voice-over and the interviews with the German architect, an Iranian archaeologist, a Tehran museum curator and picnickers at Persepolis are dubbed into English.

The DVD was obviously made with the full cooperation of the Iranian government as the "Research Department for Cultural Heritage & Tourism Org", the "Ministry of Cultural & Islamic Guidance", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs", the "Panha Helicopter Org" and "Iran Air" are credited at the end of the DVD.

Although promoted as a digital reconstruction of the Persepolis site, the DVD includes extensive footage of other matters such as the Behistun inscription of Darius I, the Ishtar Gateway from Babylon as reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, the Susa archaeological site and wall reliefs, and the history of deciphering cuneiform inscriptions. In other words, the DVD is padded with material more relevant to "The Persian Empire" than "Persepolis".

The digital reconstructions of Persepolis are few and far between. The internal views of the palace of Darius and the terrace of the Apadana are nicely detailed but the external views of the buildings are rather bland. There are no digital reconstructions of the whole site nor any plans to locate the various buildings on the site.

The aerial shots and ground level panoramic views are the best part of the DVD as they allow the viewer to relate the site to the surrounding plain and nearby hills. This just about obviates a visit to the site in person.

The DVD is little more than a tourist teaser. Better to invest in a good book like "The Persian Empire" aka "The Persians" by J. M. Cook.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but left me wanting more history December 4, 2009
The ruins depicted in Persepolis are quite simply amazing. This DVD has excellent quality footage, making you feel like you're getting a good glimpse of the Persian Empire's capital. The ruins are as stunning as any I've seen in Rome or Greece. I also appreciated the many digital reconstructions of the city, which show what it probably looked like 2,500 years ago (it was quite colorful). I was a bit disappointed that the DVD didn't go int other history of the Persian Empire in greater depth. Like most Westerners, my knowledge of ancient Persia is limited and from the Greek perspective, although I have read Tom Holland's Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West. It would have been useful for the film to spend a good 10 minutes talking about the history of the Persian Empire, its leaders, etc. Instead, it spent a bit too much time talking about the importance of the Persian calendar system.
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