The Dark Ages (The History Channel)
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The Dark Ages uses recent scholarship and high production values to recreate the period just after the fall of Rome in the late 5th century A.D. The Roman Empire in the West had collapsed and a ragtag band of barbarians made up of Goths, Vandals, Franks, and Lombards wage bloody warfare against each other to divide up the pieces of the once-great Empire. In the East, the remnants of the Empire live on under the Emperor Justinian who becomes obsessed with recapturing Rome and reconquering the West. Meanwhile, the Franks, easily the most powerful of the post-Roman tribes, have begun to establish a great kingdom under the Merovingian dynasty, led by King Clovis, whose conversion to Christianity helps secure its place in the history of Europe. The documentary then touches on the Viking raids along the English and Irish coasts, the desperate struggle to crush the invading Muslim armies that threaten to capture all of Spain and France, and ultimately, the consolidation of Western Europe as part of the Holy Roman Empire under Charlemagne.
This is probably one of the best History Channel DVDs out there and shows that a good amount of time and effort went into create this production. While of course it cannot tell every detail of the nearly 500 year period of the Dark Ages, it does a good job of providing an excellent introduction to the subject. It is one which recommends itself to anyone who claims to be a student of history.
-The Sacking of Rome (7:22)
-The Waning Empire (4:58)
-Common Thread of Christianity (10:12)
-An Empire Strikes Back (8:33)
-The Plague (9:06)
-Men of Cloth, Men of Letters (10:40)
-A Holy War (7:59)
-The Greatest King (9:37)
-The Vikings (10:04)
-The Crusades (10:01)
In this production, we learn little about social or political organizations and absolutely nothing about the daily lives of people, the technologies available to them and how those developed and improved over the years. We don't get as much as a hint at which crops they grew, how they grew them, how they stored and prepared food, built their homes and other structures, made clothing, treated injuries and illnesses, or defended themselves against wild animals.
Instead, we are treated to the usual "the Dark Ages were filthy and violent" fair, complete with detailed descriptions of torture. We witness the same mutilations and executions time after time, hear the same screams over and over, and see the same battle scene reenactments again and again (complete, as another reviewer pointed out, with cavalry using historically inaccurate gear, such as saddles, horseshoes and stirrups). Unfortunately, we don't get much information about why these people fought, and this leads me right back to the start of this review: It is impossible to give more than the most superficial overview of 1000 years of history in one hour.
This low-budget program does not educate viewers. All it does is depict popular prejudices against the Middle Ages.
If you want an educated introduction into this fascinating time period, including its innovations and progress, you will have to pick up a book. My personal favorite is Morris Bishop's "The Middle Ages".
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great time killer, informative. I wish it was longer and got into some specific historical details. In the time allotted, the video only focused on generalizations.Published 3 months ago by J. McFarland
This documentary answered many questions and connected a lot of dots.Published 6 months ago by Joseph Gallegos