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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > History > TV > King Arthur's Britain

King Arthurís Britain (Documentary)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C†††† Film: B-



Originally titled Britain A.D., King Arthurís Britain is a three-part documentary is concerned far more with the historical period of post-Roman Britain, traditionally called The Dark Ages, than it is with the legends of King Arthur.  Arthur is mentioned in passing in each episode, but more as a touchstone and jumping off place than anything else.  Itís apparent the good kingís name was added to the title to capitalize on last years movie and the fact that in the general pubic there is more interest in King Arthur than in archeology.


That said it is a very good documentary.  Anyone with an interest in Arthur has some interest in the time period he represents, a time period of which we have far more myth and legend than actual written documentation.  This program attempts to show through archeological evidence that our commonly accepted view of the Dark Ages is in fact, wrong.History has long said that after the Roman Empire withdrew from Great Britain in the first third of the fifth century, the country fell into ruin.


All semblance of civilization quickly disappeared to be replaced with chaos and barbarism, setting the stage for a massive invasion from the European continent by a group of people known collectively as the Saxons.The documentary compellingly shows that the archeological evidence simply doesnít support this claim.  Invasions of this scale leave evidence of battles and sudden changes in language and culture.


What the archeologists have discovered points more toward a long-term migration and assimilation.There is evidence of long-term settlements, ones that predate the Romans and continue to exist during their occupation and well after they have gone.There are Roman-like villas full of British culture, indicating the natives learned from the Romans and continued building in this fashion after they left.  The castles that line the Saxon shore, long thought to exist to repel invaders, exhibit more characteristics of commerce than of warfare, signifying they conducted more trade with the continent than conflict.


The 1.33 X 1 image originates from professional analog PAL videotape and is just fine, as is the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, which does not have any surrounds.Except for some text extras, you only get the program itself, but thatís not bad.Acorn Media has added one of the better Arthur DVDs to the market to date, even if the title is a tad misleading.


Were there battles?  Certainly.  Anytime two cultures overlap and land and resources are in short supply there is bound to be conflict.  But the evidence of a mass invasion simply doesnít appear to exist.  Great Britain would have to wait for several hundred more years for the Normans to accomplish that.



-†† Wayne Wise



Wayne Wise is a native of Southwestern Pennsylvania currently residing in Pittsburgh.He has earned a Masters degree in clinical psychology and undergraduate degrees in psychology and history.He has worked as a freelance journalist for over nine years.In 1993, he co-created a comic book called Grey Legacy.In 2002 his first novel, King of Summer, was published.You can go to www.wayne-wise.com and learn more.


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