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Sex, Death And The Meaning Of Life
The God Plant
Catholicism The unpredictable rise of Rome
Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes
Hacking Your Mind
The Social Dilemma
The Stolen Eagle
The Last Dance Episode IX
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Mifune: The Last Samurai
Outstanding director Steven Okazaki is set to shoot 'Mifune: Last Samurai,' a high-profile feature documentary on Toshiro Mifune, the most prominent actor of Japan’s golden age of cinema. The film weaves together film clips, archival stills, and interviews with such luminaries as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. Narrated by Keanu Reeves.
Nintendo goes 3D with Star Fox. Wolfenstein 3D popularizes the first-person shooter format, while Doom ups the ante with networked gaming. 'High Score' is a crash course on the golden age of gaming filled with insightful interviews, brilliant writing, and most importantly, an inspiring and inclusive message.
In a Time of Shadows
On the second part of his journey through the dark ages Richard Rudgley continues into the age of the wandering peoples, the Volkerwanderung. These Northern people enjoyed a golden age unaffected by Rome and just 30 years after the Romans relinquished Britain, the 'Anglo-Saxons' made their move. The bedraggled legions are in retreat. Walls are pulled down. Mosaics shattered. And yet there never was a people called Anglo-Saxon. We look at the lasting influence of Saxon leaders like Alfred the Great, and his blue print for social justice.
Barbarians: Secrets of the Dark Ages
Words on a Page
Writing itself is 5,000 years old, and for most of that time words were written by hand using a variety of tools. The Romans were able to run an empire thanks to documents written on papyrus. Scroll books could be made quite cheaply and, as a result, ancient Rome had a thriving written culture. With the fall of the Roman Empire, papyrus became more difficult to obtain. Europeans were forced to turn to a much more expensive surface on which to write: Parchment. Medieval handwritten books could cost as much as a house, they also represent a limitation on literacy and scholarship.
No such limitations were felt in China, where paper had been invented in the second century. Paper was the foundation of Chinese culture and power, and for centuries how to make it was kept secret. When the secret was out, paper mills soon sprang up across central Asia. The result was an intellectual flourishing known as the Islamic Golden Age. Muslim scholars made discoveries in biology, geology, astronomy and mathematics. By contrast, Europe was an intellectual backwater.
That changed with Gutenberg’s development of movable type printing. The letters of the Latin alphabet have very simple block-like shapes, which made it relatively simple to turn them into type pieces. When printers tried to use movable type to print Arabic texts, they found themselves hampered by the cursive nature of Arabic writing. The success of movable type printing in Europe led to a thousand-fold increase in the availability of information, which produced an explosion of ideas that led directly to the European Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution that followed.
The Secret History of Writing
The Golden Age
This episode tells the tale of what's broadly considered China's most creative dynasty - the Song (960-1279). Michael Wood heads to the city of Kaifeng, the greatest city in the world before the 19th century. Here in Twin Dragon Alley, locals tell him the legend of the baby boys who became emperors.
He explores the ideas and inventions that made the Song one of greatest eras in world culture, helped by China's most famous work of art, the Kaifeng scroll, which shows the life of the city in around 1120. A chef makes Michael a recipe from a Song cookbook, while a guide to 'how to live happy, healthy lives for old people', published in 1085 and still in print, is discussed with local women doing their morning exercises. The Song was also a great era for scientific advance in China. Michael steers a huge working replica of an astronomical clock, made by China's Leonardo da Vinci.
Then at a crunch Chinese Premier League match, Michael tells us the Chinese invented football! The golden age of the northern Song ended in 1127, when invaders sacked Kaifeng, but they survived in the south. At their new capital, Hangzhou, Wood joins locals dancing by the West Lake, while in the countryside he meets Mr Xie with his records of 40 generations of ancestors. The final defeat of the Song took place in a naval battle in the estuary of the Pearl River in 1279. When all was lost, rather than surrender to the Mongols, a loyal minister jumped into the sea with the young boy emperor in his arms. 'So ended the glory of the Song', Wood concludes, 'but a new age would arise... as in China, it always has!'.
The Story of China
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