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History in Films and on Television History in Films and on TV - Documentary Films, Historical Dramas, and history programs on PBS and the History Channel


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Old January 11th, 2017, 04:45 PM   #31

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I am a huge Mary Beard fan also. I wish I could pay her whatever loads of money it would take to get a personal tour of Rome from her.

I've recently also discovered Joann Fletcher. Since she is more recent for me the comparison to Mary Beard comes to mind immediately, and I feel that her approach to Egyptian History is very much like Beard's approach to the Romans. But this does her a disservice perhaps, as she is completely her own person. But I was very excited to find her work.

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Old January 12th, 2017, 10:24 AM   #32

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Originally Posted by Ancientgeezer View Post
Oh how, how to choose between Susannah Lipscomb, Kate Williams and Mary Beard?


Click the image to open in full size.

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... I love that someone brought photos <3

Suzannah and Kate are fab...

and we all know I love Mary's snarky, brainy self too.
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Old January 12th, 2017, 11:44 PM   #33
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It's interesting that we see Henry VIII as a 'great' monarch, but Mary I as 'Bloody Mary,' when Henry is thought to have been more bloodthirsty. It's like with Queen Victoria. We call her a 'great' monarch, yet her reign was plagued by notoriety.
Henry VIII is great because of his accomplishments not because he was good or kindly. Mary is bloody because she was quite frankly awful.
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Old January 13th, 2017, 09:44 AM   #34

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No mention of the WORST.

There are a huge number of awful history documentaries out there. But it is probably no coincidence that they frequently do not feature a historian. Just the voice of the movie trailer ("in a world!") guy trying to make history palatable for the attention deficit masses.

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Old January 13th, 2017, 12:23 PM   #35

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No mention of the WORST.

There are a huge number of awful history documentaries out there. But it is probably no coincidence that they frequently do not feature a historian. Just the voice of the movie trailer ("in a world!") guy trying to make history palatable for the attention deficit masses.

-Dave K
That appears to be very much an American habit. For instance the exceptional BBC Natural History series like "Life on Earth", "Living Planet", "Walking with Dinosaurs" and several others were fronted in the original by David Attenborough, who studied Geology and Zooology at cambridge and later obtained a post graduate degree in Anthropology and just about invented the Natural History TV genre--the US versions used Sigorney Weaver and Alec Baldwin.
Likewise, I notice that many of the UK history programmes that have eminent historians as presenters replace themfor US release with Hollywood actors doing voice overs and rely on cutaways to "talking head" academics--thus also reducing the running time from the UK standard 55 minutes running time to the US Standard 40 minutes to allow for more ad breaks.
How much the content is enhanced by having a Hollywood Star in person or in voice--is up for debate.
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Old January 13th, 2017, 12:37 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by DaveK View Post
No mention of the WORST.

There are a huge number of awful history documentaries out there. But it is probably no coincidence that they frequently do not feature a historian. Just the voice of the movie trailer ("in a world!") guy trying to make history palatable for the attention deficit masses.

-Dave K
I think you are correct about non historians and awful documentaries. I would hope these shows were at least written by a historians but I suspect the target audience mean the shows producers tend to focus on populist history. Two presenters I dislike are Tony Robinson and Terry Jones. Robinson is good on Time Team but outside TT as a history presenter he is awful imo. The same with Terry Jones who I believe is a historian. However, you can tell he got the gig as a tv historian because of his comedy work. His history work on tv has been fairly poor.
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Old January 13th, 2017, 01:11 PM   #37

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To have documentaries fronted by celebrities is by no means an American peculiarity, there are also plenty on British television.
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Old January 13th, 2017, 04:27 PM   #38

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As far as celebrities go, I like Peter Weller as a presenter.

Besides being charismatic, he has the credentials and isn't just some actor with no interest in the subject matter. He has a masters degree in Roman & Renaissance art and taught ancient history at university.
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Old January 13th, 2017, 06:55 PM   #39
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What about Terry Jones?
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Old January 14th, 2017, 08:56 AM   #40

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That appears to be very much an American habit. For instance the exceptional BBC Natural History series like "Life on Earth", "Living Planet", "Walking with Dinosaurs" and several others were fronted in the original by David Attenborough, who studied Geology and Zooology at cambridge and later obtained a post graduate degree in Anthropology and just about invented the Natural History TV genre--the US versions used Sigorney Weaver and Alec Baldwin.
ughhhh, yes! So unnecessary. I wanted to re-watch planet earth at one point and remember getting the Sigourney Weaver version. She's not a bad narrator, but she's not Sir David Attenborough. I couldn't stand it. Sent the thing back.

Quote:
Likewise, I notice that many of the UK history programmes that have eminent historians as presenters replace themfor US release with Hollywood actors doing voice overs and rely on cutaways to "talking head" academics--thus also reducing the running time from the UK standard 55 minutes running time to the US Standard 40 minutes to allow for more ad breaks.
How much the content is enhanced by having a Hollywood Star in person or in voice--is up for debate.
Mainstream American history documentaries are apparently targeted towards conservative, cheap beer guzzling, Mel Gibson movie watching types who doesn't like funny accents and who find reading subtitles tedious. I can't watch for more than a few minutes, or after the 3rd recap/repeat of the same fact after the 3rd commercial break.

Needless too say I am snobbishly preferring either BBC documentaries or PBS (often in collaboration with the BBC anyway).

There is a subculture of people demanding better quality stuff and we've seen services like Curiositystream pop up. I bought myself a year subscription and the documentaries are generally of a better quality, though there is less history than I would have liked.

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