Queen Victoria's Empire VHS
During the first half of the 19th century Great Britain underwent an extraordinary transformation. The Industrial Revolution turned farm laborers into factory workers, goods manufactured in England were sold around the world, and successive governments struggled to reconcile the rapid growth of national wealth and prestige with terrible social inequality. In 1837, the 18-year-old Queen Victoria was crowned, and this epic documentary explores the vital role she played in the events of that tumultuous century.
The first episode focuses on the consequences of the Industrial Revolution, from the engineering feats of Isembard Kingdom Brunel to the horrors of the Irish famine. Victoria's beloved husband, Albert, emerges as a powerful force, and his belief in expansion through trade set the agenda for the early years of Victoria's reign. The second episode, "Passage to India," examines the growth of British power in India and the consequences of the new imperialist mood. The final two episodes deal with the problems of imperialism and the eventual decline of British power. After the death of Albert the queen was drawn into an ideological struggle between Disraeli and Gladstone, two prime ministers with opposite views. Disraeli was an expansionist, while Gladstone found imperialism repugnant. Their battleground was to be Africa, where the ambitious Cecil Rhodes would draw the Britain into the Boer War to further his own dreams of empire.
Queen Victoria's Empire conveys the complex social and political events in the 19th-century British Empire with admirable clarity. Any project with such a massive scope can only touch on many events, but this documentary offers a fascinating introduction to a remarkable historical period. --Simon Leake
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Narrated by Donald Sutherland, what I found so fascinating about this entire video were the ties you could make after watching it between Victorian times and today. The disputes over globalization (although the sides have flip-flopped somewhat), the leftover problems in Africa and India that we're still dealing with and the parliamentary debates of Victoria's time all reflect problems we're still wrestling with.
Well worth the watch...!
The series comprises of four hours - each focusing on a different aspect of the Victorian empire. The first hour looks at how the nation rocketed to industrial status with the invention of the steam engine while her people suffered under the adverse effects of the Industrial Revolution.
The second hour is primarily based on the conquest of India, first under the East India Company and then the transfer of India to the British Crown after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.
Exploration of Africa by Livingstone and a tussle of power between Disraeli and Gladstone form the main subject of the third part. The last hour further focuses on expansion into Africa by Rhodes.
Throughout the first two hours, there is considerable attention given to Queen Victoria's husband - an idealist and a supporter of new technology - and how he was a guide and mentor to her. One sees how Queen Victoria's persona changes after she loses her husband.
The other part covered through most of the four hours is the animosity between Disraeli and Gladstone. Disraeli's goals for the empire centered on increased imperial conquests and it was he and his ideals that were in favor with the Queen.
The narration in the entire series is excellent which is typical of PBS documentaries. It is also full of narration from Queen Victoria's own diary which gives an insight into her actual thoughts instead of interpretations by biographers.
Nevertheless, with a four hour running time, the series is needlessly stretched. It covers small events which might not have been necessary. Due to this, it becomes hard to maintain the viewer's interest for the entire 4 hours unless one is really interested in the subject.
In order to colonize chosen areas the British killed and enslaved the natives who dared to resist. The laws were only imposed upon the natives and not valid to the British. The British by any mean shipped the best of anything from the colonies to England; some given to the Queen or her family members; some remained in the British Museum; some granted to those who wre knighted.
Foe example Greek government has been requesting the British for returning statutes.