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Surviving History


List Price: $29.98
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Surviving History + Ancient Discoveries: Ancient Torture Tech + Machines of Malice
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Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: History
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, 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: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2008
  • Run Time: 423 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001E1822C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,589 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Master craftsmen from the renowned Scarefactory in Columbus, Ohio take on a spellbinding challenge from HISTORY: to re-create some of the most inventive, and fascinating, devices ever made. In an effort to understand ancient inventions and weaponry, the team fabricates the elements just as they would have been made centuries and even millennia ago and then goes on to test them! The 4-DVD set illuminates China's early use of gunpowder and rocket-propelled fire arrows, the battering rams and missile launchers of the Romans, as well as the medieval morning star mace and semiautomatic Chinese repeating crossbow. Surviving History documents the fiendish ingenuity that went into inventions of persuasion and punishment, devices with names like iron maiden, Judas cradle, strappado, whirligig, rack, shame flute, chastity belt, and heretic's fork. Not for the faint of heart, the set is an eye-opening, informative journey into humankind's undeniably dark, brutal side.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Dobey on October 24, 2013
this gruesome show! was on a few years back on the history channel. A group of people recreate famous torture devices from history. Suprisingly the Iron Maiden was rarely used in history but it's featured here as well. One reason was it was just a killing machine and not much else. This is a interesting series and you get a 'feel' about how bad the past really was. Torture and pillaring and such were common place. Women could be put into a head device for complaining too much, which didn't kill them at least. Kudos to the brave woman who goes under a guillotine in one episode. She has more guts than most people! After all a magician doing a trick with one was killed just twenty years ago. The dvd looks great visually because it's a newer show , it only ran for one season?. but you do get some great history lessons here , that are pretty ghoulish. The bull that the king of sicily put people in , was perhaps the worst of them all. But even a iron boot is pretty horrible and evil to think of. Check this out ,and be grateful for todays justice systems!.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mauricius A. Gibin on September 20, 2010
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We read about these instruments of torture, we see their pictures, but watching a video on how they worked is - by far - more impressive. This DVD gets 5 stars because it not only shows how these instruments worked, but also the team's effort in actually building them from scratch and putting them to test (on human subjects too). DVD is a bit too long and repetitive (at some point the comments are exactly the same, only expressed by some other team member).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Darais on March 6, 2011
i remember studying these devices for a history report i had to do and came across this show, the show puts in a lot more detail than what i could find and besides just teaching about how the machine would work it also gives a brief history of why the machines were used. got to admit i learned a lot from this show! a Must See for anyone who is interested in pass devices!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Red Xala on February 8, 2012
The History Channel and craftsman/artisans from the Scarefactory in Columbus, Ohio team up to re-create and test some of the most horrifying execution/torture devices and weapons of the ancient world. Some of the more notable selections include the Halifax Gibbet (a forerunner to the guillotine, in which the victims faced upward toward their impending doom), the Brazen Bull (a metal oven formed into the shape of a bull, with victims being roasted alive), the Judas Cradle (a pyramid shaped pedestal; victims were stripped naked and forcibly lowered down into a sitting position upon the pointed tip of this device), and the Strappado (a favorite torture device of the Inquisition; with arms tied behind their backs, victims were hoisted into the air by ropes tied around their wrists - dislocating arms, damaging tendons, and tearing ligaments).
I enjoyed both the historical information and the creative process involved in making these nightmarish devices. However, when it came to "testing" these creations, some of the experiments seemed to fall a bit flat. When they tested devices meant more for humiliation rather than torture (such as the Branks Mask and the Shame Flute) the scenes generally worked well for the episodes. However, because of the obvious dangers of many of the devices, the human test subjects could only go through mock trials with some of the torture implements and weapons, making the re-enactments seem rather pointless. Case in point was the experiment involving the Strappado; they obviously couldn't do a real test that would hyper-extend the subjects arms backward, so they put safety harnesses in place.
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