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Silk Roads and China Ships

   2016    History
Michael Wood tells the tale of China's first great international age under the Tang Dynasty (618-907). From the picturesque old city of Luoyang, he travels along the Silk Road to the bazaars of central Asia and into India on the track of the Chinese monk who brought Buddhism back to China. This tale is still loved by the Chinese today and is brought to life by storytellers, films and shadow puppet plays. Then in the backstreets and markets of Xi'an, Michael meets descendants of the traders from central Asia and Persia who came into China on the Silk Road. He talks to Chinese Muslims in the Great Mosque and across town hears the amazing story of the first reception of Christianity in 635. Moving south, Michael sees the beginnings of China as an economic giant. On the Grand Canal, a lock built in 605 still handles 800 barges every day! The film tracks the rise of the silk industry and the world's favourite drink - tea. Michael looks too at the spread of Chinese script, language and culture across east Asia. 'China's influence on the East was as profound as Rome on the Latin West', he says, 'and still is today'. Finally, the film tells the intense drama of the fall of the Tang. Among the eyewitnesses were China's greatest poets. In a secondary school in a dusty village, where the Chinese Shakespeare - Du Fu - is buried in the grounds, the pupils take Michael through one famous poem about loss and longing as the dynasty falls. And in that ordinary classroom, there is a sense of the amazing drama and the deep-rooted continuities of Chinese culture.
Series: The Story of China

The Last Empire

   2016    History
China's last empire, the Qing, lasted from 1644 to 1912. It began in violence and war as the Manchus swept down from the north, but invaders became emperors, with three generations of one family ruling the country. Among them, Michael Wood argues, was China's greatest emperor - Kangxi. Under the Qing, China doubled in size to include Xinjiang in the far west, as well as Mongolia and Tibet, creating the essential shape of China today. The new dynasty tolerated a diversity of cultures and religions, including Islam. In Kaifeng, Michael visits a women's mosque with a female imam, a delightful scene that ends with laughter and selfies! The Qing also undertook huge cultural enterprises. At a traditional printing house where the wood blocks are hand-carved, we see how the Complete Tang Poems were reproduced - all 48,000 of them. We travel through the wintry countryside to a remote village where a hardy audience watch open-air opera in the snow and visit a painter's studio, and 'storytelling' houses in Yangzhou. In the 18th century, China was arguably the greatest economy in the world, and we get a fabulous sense of the rich culture that came with prosperity. But then came the clash with the British, in the first Opium War, when a British expedition destroyed the Qing navy and extracted territory and trading rights. We leave with a glimpse of the future. 'Every dynasty has risen and declined,' says Michael, 'and has needed new life to regenerate, and this time the catalyst was the British.' Among the ports China ceded was an almost uninhabited island, Hong Kong, one of today's greatest financial centres, and Shanghai, a small town then but now one of the greatest cities in world.
Series: The Story of China

Magnificent Desolation Walking on the Moon

   2005    Technology    3D
Exploring the moon was humankind’s most incredible journey. Now through the magic of 3D, you can take that giant leap for yourself. Presented and narrated by Tom Hanks, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon will transport you to the lunar surface to walk alongside the 12 extraordinary astronauts who have been there to experience what they saw, heard, felt, thought and did. A romantic, inspirational depiction of the Apollo astronauts travels on the moon peppered by their quotations of their impressions.

Building the Great Pyramid

       History
The Great Pyramid of Giza's construction is still shrouded in mystery, despite it being the only survivor among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In Building the Great Pyramid, travel back 4,500 years with the BBC as they re-create the circumstances under which it may have been built, as well as the daily life of the population at that time. Expert archaeologists, Egyptologists, and scholars share their latest theories on what may have happened. The film combines dramatic reconstruction, location shooting and state-of-the-art CGI computer effects. Directed and written by Jonathan Stamp.

Life After People

   2008    Nature
Visit the ghostly villages surrounding Chernobyl (abandoned by humans after the 1986 nuclear disaster), travel to remote islands off the coast of Maine to search for abandoned towns that have vanished from view in only a few decades, then head beneath the streets of New York to see how subway tunnels may become watery canals. A visual journey, LIFE AFTER PEOPLE is a thought provoking adventure that combines movie-quality visual effects with insights from experts in the fields of engineering, botany, ecology, biology, geology, climatology, and archaeology to demonstrate how the very landscape of our planet will change in our absence.
The Story of the Jews
The Story of the Jews

   2013    History
Conquistadors
Conquistadors

   2002    History
In Search of
In Search of

   2018    Technology
Woody Allen A Documentary
Woody Allen A Documentary

   2011    History
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

   2014    Science
Life
Life

   2009    Nature
The Universe
The Universe

   2010    Science