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In Their Own Words

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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(Mar 13, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

"Enthralling, magnificent…literary and TV gold" —The Observer (U.K.) "Amazing archive footage" —The Guardian (U.K.)

BBC interviews with great novelists and thinkers

"Riveting" —The Sunday Times (U.K.) "Unmissable" —The Mail on Sunday (U.K.)

George Orwell. Susan Sontag. Sigmund Freud. Margaret Mead. These giants and dozens more appeared in BBC interviews, documentaries, and films, offering insights on their work and their world. This remarkable compilation gathers archival footage—much of it available for the first time since its original airing—featuring some of the greatest minds of the 20th century.

The collection includes rarities such as the only surviving voice recording of Virginia Woolf, J.R.R. Tolkien reading in his invented Elvish language, disquieting footage of participants in Stanley Milgram's experiments in the human capacity for cruelty, and Jane Goodall discovering behavioral links between humans and chimpanzees. As a real-life compilation of historic moments, it’s beyond compare; as an overview of the social and political forces of the 20th century, it’s compelling viewing and an exceptional glimpse of the geniuses who have shaped the modern world.

Special Features

  • 16-page viewer’s guide with visionary ideas in retrospect, profiles of the interviewers, perspectives on seminal novels, an article on the Bloomsbury group, and the history of the BBC
  • Biographies of people featured in the program
  • Plus discussion questions and writers on writers at athenalearning.com

SDH subtitles

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Athena
  • DVD Release Date: March 13, 2012
  • Run Time: 351 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006JY3O7M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,098 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on January 28, 2012
This documentary/educational set is a two-part feast for intellectuals. Not only does it delve into what some of the greatest UK minds were thinking, but actually give archived footage of them expounding their ideas and pursuits. As a result, some footage is B/W, especially early 20th Century clips but what a treasure to get to see and listen to these deceased greats during the height of their glory. Viewers get stills, audio, and film footage of writers, intellectuals, revolutionists, and all facets between when a single person had a new idea that made a significant difference in society. BBC (the Beeb) founded 1922, began TV in 1936.

SDH SUBTITLES available.
DISC 1 is "British Novelists." This disc of 3 episodes, 175 min., alone is worthy of the set. Every HS through university should have it available, no-required viewing. And it's so enjoyable, students will be delighted. Better than any lecture. Here directly, and see with you own eyes these prolific UK authors (1919-1990). You'll notice, many of these author's great novels have been BBC adapted and are available on DVD as well as books.
===Episode 1, AMONG THE RUINS 1919-39: WWI aftermath via British writers, narration and archival footage, talk of the past and the issues set in text. HC Wells; Bloomsbury Group, EM Forster, Virginia Wolf; see awesome 1920s party footage; live interviews of: Cartland (700 post war novels), PG Wodehouse (Wooster & Jeeves), Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited), Elizabeth Bowen, Jean Rhys (Wide Sargasso Sea), Robert Graves (I, Claudius), TH White, Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), Geo. Orwell (1984), Graham Green.
===Ep 2, THE AGE OF ANXIETY 1945-69: 1950s began reinventing the novel form in UK. Good & evil.
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I really enjoyed this DVD set. I purchased it primarily for the first disc that focuses on authors, but was equally entertained by the second disc that focuses on "Great Thinkers." I felt that the first episode on disc 1 was a little tedious. Mostly, because it covers a time period that contained a great number of authors who are now considered canonical giants whose stories are familiar to everyone.

However, after episode 1, the series continued on through the decades to many authors and books I'd never encountered before. Each section focuses strictly toward authors who were the voices of their generation. The authors are explored in the context of the era they wrote in. This particular lens provides a great deal of insight for those of us who weren't around to experience those eras. I came away from the series with substantial additions to my "to read" list.

My only complaint about the series is the price. 44 dollars (at the time of this review) is absurd. Amazon Instant Video also offers the series at about half the price for the whole season or purchasable per episode: British Novelists: Among the Ruins, 1919-1939 - but even this option seems too steep. I purchased mine used from one of the Amazon sellers for less than the Instant Video price, but am still frustrated that quality educational entertainment is made elitist by this kind of high price structure. The series was not available anywhere else online, and while I enjoyed it immensely, it's not the kind of show likely to be re-watched often enough to justify its high price. I strongly suggest checking to see if it's available at your local library first, and/or requesting it for future purchase by your local library.
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IN THEIR OWN WORDS is a real curio. At times absolutely fascinating because of its presentation of archival interviews with great intellectuals of the 20th-Century, and equally frustrating at its hodgepodge approach to presenting the themes suggested (or is that dictated) by the available interviews, IN THEIR OWN WORDS isn’t strictly what its title suggests. When listening to the only surviving voice recording of Virginian Woolf, or J.R.R. Tolkien reading in his invented LORD OF THE RINGS language, the series is captivating. When listening to “great thinkers” such as John Maynard Keynes talking about economics, the appeal is perhaps less obvious.

At six episodes and 351 minutes in length, it may be that the viewer has to pick and choose from among the many interviews and film clips to find what interests most. Fortunately this is easily done with the help of the 16-page viewer’s guide which gives the backgrounds of the various authors, activists and intellectuals who are on hand.

Still, it must be remembered that programs of this type are going to have limited appeal to begin with. That they are created and made available at all, through specialized distributors such as Athena (a sub-group of Acorn Media), is something to be commended. This is the type of programming that has considerable historical and educational value, but it is not for everyone. There is no doubting, however, the need for this type of product and for that, as well as the captioning and superb packaging, one must be thankful.
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