Da Vinci & Mysteries of the Renaissance
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A fascinating collection that begins with The Life of Leonardo Da Vinci, Part I and Part II and adds four more absorbing presentations detailing events and the lives of Copernicus, Galileo, Martin Luther, Michelangelo, Machiavelli and many others. From the Renaissance series: The Scientist, The Dissenter, The Artist and The Prince and the Warrior . 6 DVDs. 2005/color/9 hrs/NR.
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I have only just ordered this particular set, so I haven’t seen how exactly it reproduces some/all of the episodes in that series called *Renaissance*. But I am happy to find that it found its way to DVD, as I have access only to the series on VHS. It was made for PBS in the 1990s and based on the book *Renaissance Lives* (1993) by Princeton Professor of History Theodore Rabb (now Emeritus). Now, Rabb’s work is the perfect example of mainstream, well-researched, widely-received, eminently readable, if conventional, academic histories of early modern Europe. Ian Richardson’s sonorous, Oxford-English-accented introductions to the episodes give the series away as intended to defend that view against the 25-year tsunami of postmodern, deconstructive, paradigm-shifting critiques of just such conservative, old-school histories as Rabb and his generation of historians write/wrote.
At the time of the PBS broadcast, I was teaching an undergraduate Cultural Studies course on the many intersections of misogyny and antisemitism in Western culture, and I used some of the episodes of *Renaissance* as introductions in the course unit on the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Like all the films I used in my courses, this series provided young students, fed since birth on a diet of screen-delivered information and entertainment, with the visual jolt they need to get interested in a course unit that they might otherwise sit out in the campus pub. Over the years, at least one student per term, and sometimes several, have fetched Rabb’s book from the library and cited him in their essays, sometimes for his erudition, other times for what he leaves out. When students start asking where the episodes/chapters called “The Witch” and “The Court Jew” are, you know the films have done at least some of the work for which you’d screened them in class.
So for all the Amazon reviewers who love to fill up the webpages on documentary films with the blindingly obvious, get off your butts and read history books instead of expecting the 50-minute doc to feed you with everything you need to know on a historical period.
tell whether it is bad lip syncing, or just poorly made. But that only pertains to the two DVD's on Leonardo.
The other four...are just fine, and are very informative as well. I enjoyed thoroughly.
The volumes on "The Dissenter'and "The Scientist' both narrated by Ian Richardson are worthwhile. The remaining discs ('The Prinnce' and 'The Artist') are rambling and lack cohesion.
I cannot recommend this collection.
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Vasya - Los Angeles
buy it when you can.