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The Story of 1 (2006)

Terry Jones , Marcus du Sautoy , Nick Murphy  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Terry Jones, Marcus du Sautoy, Leo Jampinjinpa Wayne, Ahmed Boulane, Fred Challa
  • Directors: Nick Murphy
  • Producers: Fred Challa, Nick Murphy, Adam Kemp, Jasper James, Tamara Bodenham
  • 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
  • DVD Release Date: May 21, 2006
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,317 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Story of 1" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Terry Jones embarks on a humor filled journey to discover the amazing tale that lies behind the simplest number we have. Using computer graphics, 1 is brought to life for the program, in all his various guises. 1's story reveals how the most celebrated civilizations in history were achieved, where our modern numbers came from and how the invention of zero changed the world forever and saved us from having to use Roman numerals today.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
104 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's math, it's history, it's a lot of fun April 14, 2006
I watched this when it premiered on my local PBS affiliate and I thought it was a lot of fun and full of loads and loads of interesting history.

As a world history teacher, I am always on the lookout for something that can tell our story with a twist. This one does it quite nicely.

The documentary tells the story of man's use of one (and other numbers, but the focus always returns to the number 1) throughout time with a humorous twist. It explores early uses of math, why mankind had to develop math, why the Roman Numerals were inferior to our current system and continues on to the modern use of binary numbers.

As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted it for my history class. It will be great as a different sort of review of the history that we have studied thus far.

I give this one a grade of 'A'.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History of Math October 30, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I saw this program on a PBS station and loved it! As a college professor teaching in a basic skills 'Learning Community' of Math and Reading, I found this DVD gave students a framework to understand and see the progression of the very concepts they were using in basic math classes. Much class discussion ensued because of the humor and the presentation provided. I agree with another reviewer. This program is effective for students from grades 6 up to and including college. What a fun way to learn! I purchased my own DVD but also ordered a copy for our college library.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great math documentary April 28, 2006
I watched this when it was shown on PBS one night. It is a fantastic blend of humor and math history. Being a math teacher I immediately found myself figuring out how to work this movie into my lesson plans. Any one that has an appreciation for math and history will love this film.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story for every1 January 24, 2008
The Story of 1 is a terrific hybrid of history and mathematical concepts. While both my wife and I are educators, my field is history and hers is math, and we both feel that this entertaining documentary would work exceptionally for middle-school students right on through college age, and in both of our respective disciplines.

Terry Jones, enjoyable as always, traces the number one through its pre-historic beginnings to its current applications in computer binary code and reveals how numbers and concepts transformed civilizations in the time between. Matters presented include the progress of one with other numbers and how civilizations were allowed to grow as a result; the inefficiency of Roman numerals over Arabic (Indian!) numerals and the latter's capitalist conquest; and finally with Leibniz's assertion that only one and zero are necessary for any mathematical problem. Also, most interestingly, he shows the Australian aboriginal culture whose native counting system never moved beyond the number one. He does this, of course, in his usual humorous way with the assistance of modern experts and actors in period clothing. He also travels to many of the sites to show first-hand the evidence for that which he is explaining.

Mr. Jones, like me, is clearly not an expert in mathematical concepts - he is more comfortable with the historical details - but the viewer learns alongside him in clearly illustrated sequences where imaginative animations have been added for good measure. Likewise, it offers an historical appreciation and understanding for those who are more numerically minded - like my wife - for the mathematical systems we often take for granted.

It is highly informative and short enough to be easily utilized in the classroom setting.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very fun documentary, but a very brief overview June 18, 2008
This was a really fun documentary to watch, regardless of how elementary it was overall. However, the documentary is only about an hour long so you can't really recount the history of civilization (which goes with math) in that short period of time. This documentary does give the viewer a clearly defined impression that the number one is far more complex in history than most people might have thought. Granted there are assuredly more numbers than just one, the friends 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 do make a cameo appearance every now and again, but as the DVD points out... they're all made up of units of one when broken down! That is until the rise of zero comes into play.

Math and history are probably two of my most favored subjects and I've been getting into documentaries as of late, so to combine the two in one setting was a great find! All this and to top it off with having it narrated by Terry Jones from Monty Python fame. With that kind of a narrator I was expecting a fair degree of silliness throughout the documentary. Granted it's not nearly as off the wall as we get in Monty Python skits (unfortunately there are no silly walks), but it did have its humorous moments. I suppose the concept derived from the fact that most people find math boring or cumbersome so they wanted to lighten the mood. Most of this silliness is generated via computer graphics with representations of numbers getting into mischief and so forth. Terry Jones certainly has his witty quips thrown in to make it entertaining as well. I must reference what he said the Egyptians liked to do for those who have seen this already.

This documentary goes over how essential mathematics was for building civilization even in ancient times dating back to Sumer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Carl N. Sidle
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for math buffs.
I like these "Nova" style science and nature videos. As a number of people have commented, this video uses too many cartoon-like effects and lame comedy for my tastes. Read more
Published 3 months ago by D. Barber
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh while you learn.
There are not very many videos a math teacher can use, but this is one of them. It is the history of mathematics told in a funny and entertaining way. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Debbie Good
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining
I have shown it to my students, understand, my students are from a continuation high school, and they were somewhat interested in it. The humor is dry English stye, but I like it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Manuel Pedro
5.0 out of 5 stars Great video for kids of all ages.
There's a lot of information hidden in this very funny video. Moves quickly, excellent graphics, and Terry Jones is too funny.
Published 9 months ago by bhjulian
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes the history of numbers very entertaining.
Funny and informative. Very entertaining and perfect for a classroom history of our math. Very well filmed. Makes the history of numbers very entertaining. Read more
Published 12 months ago by KTS
4.0 out of 5 stars Watched it in my math classes
It is kind of hokey looking but while my high school students laughed at some of the really corny parts they were engaged but it and we all learned something.
Published 15 months ago by Susan K. Gushue
5.0 out of 5 stars Really great video.
I teach math, and I love this video. This is a terrific story about the history of math. Highly recommended.
Published 18 months ago by Rod Dudley
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous video - whole family enjoyed
Kids enjoyed this video just as much as adults. Very good intro to history of numbers & very supportive of the Montessori 5th Great Lesson - will be using to supplement at school.
Published 22 months ago by J. Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars great for math class, with one caveat
My husband teaches math in middle and high school. He made a copy of this movie minus the indigenous woman's exposed upper half, and it is a great video for him to use in class, he... Read more
Published 22 months ago by steelerschica
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