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The Ascent of Man Dvd Set

4.6 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The New York Times called it "quite simply, a milestone in programming". Now, watch Dr. Jacob Bronowski as he has never been seen before. New video masters have given us the ability to digitally re-master this classic series enabling you to give your students a 21st century viewing experience.

An American Film Festival Award winner, this 13 volume series attempts a massive survey of science, from flint tools to the theory of relativity. The series, a co-production of the BBC and Time-Life Films was made as a science counterpart to Civilization. It is given superb technical support, with two crews using innovative filming techniques, shooting in 27 countries. Dr. Jacob Bronowski, makes for an unorthodox narrator, his non-scripted delivery ranging from hushed awe to trembling passion. He uses the crawling infant, the performing athlete, the development of the hunt and the discovery of fire to illustrate the most distinctive feature of man: imagination.

Programs in the series:
Lower than Angels
Harvest of the Seasons
Grain in the Stone
The Hidden Structure
Music of the Spheres
Starry Messenger
Majestic Clockwork
Drive for Power
Ladder of Creation
World within World
Knowledge or Certainty
Generation upon Generation
Long Childhood


The series peels back layers of history,invention, science and archaeology to investigate the 'great paradox of the human species'... this 13-title series with stands the test of time and is an excellent resource for high-school and college students. --Booklist

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Dr. Jacob Bronowski
  • Directors: Adrian Malone
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    General Audience
  • Studio: Ambrose Video Publishing, Inc.
  • DVD Release Date: March 1, 2007
  • Run Time: 676 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NDI3SK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,464 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Of the three major British TV series in the past that took a 'big vision' of the development of civilisation in technical and/or intellectual senses: Clarke's 'Civilisation', Bronowski's 'Ascent', and Burke's 'Connections' by far the most conceptually penetrating and diverse was Bronowski's.

I would characterise it like this, with Clarke we get the Aristocrat/Scholar, superb and singular in his erudition and exemplary sensibility, with Burke we get the hip materialist university prof who with wit draws together individuals and science in easy-to-understand argument/narratives that make him look clever. With Bronowski we get depth and intellectual risk taking. I think this has to do with how Bronowski chooses to articulate a sense of oblique contemplation about the events he describes as he explains things - that is for him communicating his points is always tied into synthesising a symbolic language of attributes about humanity's progress with scientific or empirical facts. This comes from a variety of things, Bronowski's early interest in literature (particularly William Blake), his heritage as an eastern European Jew, and his experiences as an assessor of the effects of war both as a scientist and as a Jew.

His book on Blake, although at times meandering and searching, is the most original attempt at contextualising the poet I've ever read - in a way its a critical assessment of Blake and the associative implications of his writing that models Blakean thought to 20thc conclusions as if it were Blake himself writing it.

Bronowski just simply has more depth and a much greater originality of thought and ethical outlook than the other two.
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Format: DVD
The Ascent of Man (1973) is a 13 part documentary about the history of science by Jacob Bronowski. It inspired Carl Sagan to make Cosmos (1980). The format for The Ascent of Man is based on Kenneth Clark's Civilisation (1969). It is hard not to mention The Ascent of Man without talking a little bit about Cosmos.

The Ascent of Man is widely regarded as a milestone in documentary film making. It maybe the best history of science documentary series ever made. More than 30 years later Bronowski's intensity to describe a world history of science remains unparalleled in the annuals of educational television. It will remain powerful for quite some time to come. The Executive Producer Adrian Malone went on to direct Carl Sagan's Cosmos after it.

The Ascent of Man remains an indispensable series for the human condition. It changes the way people think about themselves, their lives and the world they live in. It is a major conscious raiser. The Ascent of Man also has a bigger impact on the human condition than Cosmos does. While Cosmos treats us as the universe's way of understanding itself, The Ascent of Man is about humanity's hope in getting the right knowledge in the right way, to all individuals across the globe. That knowledge is the scientific method and its results.

The Ascent of Man is also harder hitting than Cosmos in terms of its psychological impact. Cosmos is a gentle going voyage through the universe while The Ascent of Man brings us right into the thick of it with the struggle of mankind through primitive life to liberation through logical thinking.

The Ascent of Man will reveal how life really is and what you need to do about it. Bronowski is also more abrupt than Sagan in how he reveals things. Death is death and sex is sex. Nothing is buttered up.
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Format: DVD
I can only concur with the many accolades this superb program has received over the years. Viewing it as a teen was a broadening and life-changing experience for me. Through its lens, I became fascinated by the complex interrelationships among many fields of learning and started to view the sciences as both poetry and a grand adventure. I look forward to giving the same experience to my children.

Jacob Bronowski was truly a renaissance man, capable of synthesizing the progress of human understanding and the scientific method into lucid, beautiful essays. "The Ascent of Man" is his magnum opus and, in both written and filmed formats, required reading and viewing for all those who would hope to consider themselves educated. It's not simply a history of scientific thought; it's also a vigorous defense of humanism and a passionate assault on dogma.

That said, the current edition, which I've checked out from the library, looks like it was mastered from mediocre Super8 film. And I'm a bit flummoxed by the price. I am disinclined to pay $100 for a box set of DVDs when the DVD set for Kenneth Clark's "Civilization," a series comparable both in length and in excellence, costs much less. Why overcharge and thereby discourage new generations from exposing themselves to the brilliance of Bronowski?

For that matter, why is Alistair Cooke's wonderful TV series "America" completely unavailable in America yet available in the UK? This makes no sense! Would someone at the BBC get his or her head out of the sand and release these DVDs -- properly remastered, please -- in the US?
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