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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Mini-Series > British > Royalty > Monarchy with David Starkey (British Documentary Mini-Series/Acorn)

Monarchy with David Starkey (British Documentary Mini-Series/Acorn)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Episodes: B



Based on his books, David Starkey has created a TV mini-series about 1000 years about the British Monarchy and this new DVD release from Acorn Media contains the whole series.  In trying to squeeze a millennium into six hour-long programs, the shows move quickly and obviously, some key items hare left out.  The complaints have been more than expected, but it is at least a start on the subject by someone very much in the know.


However, as I watched, the idea that the power is just there and never questioned is an issue.  Is it such a good thing for all this conformity and work for “higher-ups” on this historic level a good thing?  Are these people being paid enough for these jobs?  Is there any dangerous by-product of this arrangement that coasts on the idea that tradition is somehow always good and questioned?  Yes.  As I watched, several things crossed my mind and the royals are obviously used to this.  WWII ended most royal dynasties and that Japan and Britain are in a minority of countries with royalty in tact is a subject for another work.


Merchant/Ivory’s brilliant (and only film of theirs that is total not boring) reminds us of how this behavior extended to the homes of the rich aristocrats who appeased their way and the world’s into WWII by capitulating to tradition and appeasing (even agreeing with) Hitler.  Starkey is going through “just the facts” and that is fine, but has its limits.  It is also why he probably got the access he did.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is mixed with old and new footage, originating on digital HD, but there are more of the usual detail limits because of the tradedown of the HD and addition of archive footage.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo can also very, but is well-recorded, though it has no surrounds.  A Starkey text bio is the only extra.  All in all, Monarchy is worth a look if you are interested, but is far from the last word on the subject.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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