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Secrets of the Dead: China's Terracotta Warrior

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Editorial Reviews

The extraordinary story of China s 8,000 terracotta warriors begins two centuries before the birth of Christ. The First Emperor of China was preparing an extravagant tomb for his journey into the afterlife and decreed that he be protected forever by a monumental army. Since then no one has seen these ancient warriors in their original splendor, brightly painted and fully armed, ready to protect their Emperor for all eternity. Now this once mighty army will be returned to its former glory for the first time. Row upon row of life-size, lavishly painted warriors will rise from the dust of two millennia. But how was a terracotta army of this size made in less than two years using the technology of 2200 years ago? Led by archaeologist Agnes Hsu, SECRETS OF THE DEAD shows that the Chinese may have Henry Ford beat by more than 2,000 years with their own assembly line used to produce the 8,000-strong Ghost Army.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Narrated by LIEV SCHREIBER
  • Directors: Steven R. Talley
  • 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: PBS (DIRECT)
  • DVD Release Date: May 31, 2011
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004NJC0Q6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,562 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Stone Dog VINE VOICE on October 22, 2011
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I must admit I was disappointed by this DVD. Usually, PBS productions are quite good, but this one fell below their usual standard.

The DVD covers the terra cotta warriors meant to guard the tomb of China's first emperor. It covers their construction, a little about the history of the time period and the work of preserving the statues.

The makers of this DVD seem to have decided to focus on the construction of the figures instead of their history, armor, weapons, clothing or the man they were intended to guard. They spent an inordinate amount of time with a Chinese company that makes replicas for the tourist trade and export to the extent that I thought the DVD was essentially advertising for them!

Considering the things they could have covered like Chinese military practices (were the warrior statues buried in battle formation?) and weaponry/armor, the different ethnic groups represented by the faces of the warriors themselves (the west, all too often, sees China as a monnolithic ethnic group which it really isn't), what life was like for a Chinese warrior, etc., I was both surprised and disappointed they chose to spend so much time on how modern makers of tourist wares manufacture fake terra cotta warriors.

A little time is spent on preservation of the statues as well as work on the original laquer paint that covered them. The did briefly show a representation of a terra cotta warrior as they looked when originally painted.

There's enough here to whet one's appetite, but not satisfy it. It gets only two stars.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery Mingo on June 5, 2011
The soldiers were made 2,000 years ago, but were just found in 1974. This work examines if all the soldiers are unique. The soldiers were made in just 11 years. They weigh more than 600 pounds and are seven feet tall. (That's nowhere near the average Chinese man's height, especially 2,000 years ago!) It took the lacquer of 25 trees to laminate just one soldier. At lest 25 artists made the soldiers, probably working with a team of 10.

This doc has great computer graphics. It said before these soldiers, one emperor had 186 actual people buried with him. I heard the same happened with the Vikings and the Zulus. There are several parallels to Ancient Egypt here, but the narrator suggests the two cultures knew nothing of each other. Like Egyptian statues, these soldiers were painted. Usually in anthropological docs, if they are covering Region X, half the interviewees are Anglo-American and half are from Region X. There are some white faces here, but most of the interviewees are Chinese nationals. The work tries to end by saying, "There's a benefit to modern humans." The Chinese made a purple paint that may help our transportation systems one day.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard B on October 25, 2012
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Generally, PBS puts out some good DVD's but, this one is only average. Since I have no plans to visit China anytime soon and the two tourist attentions are the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors this is a good alternative.
There is only 60 minutes of film, which is not enough time to really get into the subject matter. I think it should have longer with more information on how you visit the area where the statues are keep are there any tours going on and etc.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K Scheffler on September 13, 2013
There's no doubt that science has done many things that have furthered our understanding of our past and have corrected numerous errors of interpretation and outright falsification - but the fact that Orwellian facial recognition technology was used in the study of these "terracotta warriors" actually leaves me a bit concerned. In recent years it has been increasingly clear to what extent we are being monitored by this kind of technology. Any instance where it is passed of as benign and beneficial simply normalizes it to most and thus we all move one step closer to a complete lack of privacy and freedom. Oh, and then there's the whole thing about the purple pigment recovered from some of the warriors actually having "potential applications in the development of new superconductor materials and in quantum computing" ("The mysterious colour purple" = COSMOS Magazine). One can only wonder how eventually this, too, will be turned against us...
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What an interesting video -- learned a lot of things -- many facts that we had not come across before!
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