Sound: C Extras: C Episodes: B
There are so many documentaries and mini-series on Ancient
Egypt, even IMDB could loose track. Most
are usually ambitious, but some seem to capture the ideas better than others
and despite overlap between such projects, the 1984 British production Ancient Lives with John Romer covers
much ground in its four parts and though some parts may be historically dated
(many new ideas and discoveries have occurred in 25 years) is still one of the
best of several I have seen.
I guess one of the big differences is that they take the
science very seriously and are very smart.
The makers care deeply about the subject and it shows. This is a mature scientific look at the
history and it is exceptionally researched.
The host and others are very knowledgeable. It is not accompanied by the heightened style
that has arrived for such programs since entire cable TV channels devoted
themselves to such programs. It is solid
throughout and I wish more of the current productions had such integrity.
The 1.33 X 1 image is a little soft and though they were
shot on what looks like 16mm film, these are PAL analog video masters
transferred likely a quarter century ago.
Hope the film prints are savable and in an archive somewhere. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also down a few
generations and of a low volume, so be careful of playback levels and audio
switching. There is a small 16-page
booklet inside the case, so be careful not to miss it and other extras include Pharaohs’ Liquid Gold about an attempt
to recreate an ancient beer recipe, Real-life
Joneses and Who’s Who Among Deities.
- Nicholas Sheffo