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Professor Spivey's 'Art On Earth' or whatever it was called.

Little Richardjohn - 11:07pm May 13, 2005 BST (#1 of 12) Delete
Another tedious professor 'marvelling' at the wonders of the ancient world and telling us how stupid we are because obviously we can never recreate their glories.
'There's nothing new under the sun', and what there is was created by singular great minds thousands of years ago under conditions of extreme patronage.
"Once when midnight smote the air
And eunuchs ran through Hell and met
On every crowded street to stare
Upon Great Juan riding by;
Even like these to rail and sweat,
Staring upon his sinewy thigh."
Not a word about the scientific, economic and climatic conditions that fed into the art of the past. The need to exaggerate, it seems, is 'hard-wired, because we are just penguins with thumbs, and that accounts for our need to express ourselves visually.
Yet another cavalcade of kings and demigods with no context and no purpose.
This was trivialising on a massive scale, including half-baked scientific theories swallowed whole (talk about penguins) and the statement 'This is the greatest piece of sculpture ever.'Which is one of the silliest critical pronouncements ever made. We weren't told what the official second best is, or how many 'point' it was beaten by.
Sadly, this is no departure for the BBC's cultural output these days. All great art is the work of great minds who were ingherently superior to the rest of us and who we all follow slavishly and owe our every insight to. Everything worthwhile comes down from the top.
Nothing is given historical presence, and every myth is taken at face value. It is a stultifyingly elitist view of human creativity which the Pharoahs themselves would have approved.
The BBC should be ashamed of itself.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------xbodnotbodx - 09:51am May 14, 2005 BST (#2 of 12)
I was only sort of half-watching it whilst doing something at the computer.
I enjoyed the special fx but I suppose it was me enjoying it as chewing gum for the eyes.
I haven't been keeping up with TV shcedules so much lately (unusual for me) and I think if I had known of its impending arrival and I had been given to understand it was the new Civilisation or something I would probably thought it was a load of shallow guff.
But happening to see it by accident I was quite taken by the snippets I saw.
Of course, if you're saying it's inaccuarte, then I'm not educated enough to know I was being misinformed and that would be a different matter.
I'd definitely consider writing to the programme makers if you feel so strongly.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Little Richardjohn - 11:49am May 14, 2005 BST (#3 of 12) Delete

It's not a question of historical accuracy or scholarship, but merely the poverty of the BBC's 'Pageant of Hisatory' approach. Henry XV111th for instance, single-handedly changed Britain forever. Without his personal intervention, we wouldn't have Nectar points, the Curly-Wurly or the rotary can opener.
And then we have the bleedin Pharoahs. A master race so sure of their theology that they put burglar alarms on their graves. They invented everything. Without them, we wouldn't have henry, and so it goes. Nothing we do now makes any difference, so why do anything? It is a totally reactionary agenda, and fit only for the nursery.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------xbodnotbodx - 12:29pm May 14, 2005 BST (#4 of 12)
My immediate thought is that without that kind of shorthand they programme would get too bogged down.
How would you resolve that problem?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Little Richardjohn - 02:57pm May 15, 2005 BST (#5 of 12) Delete
Bronowski done it. Why not this bunch of Culture-Lite chinless wonders?
A new Bronowski, with his dedication to material causation is what we need.
They bung his series out occasionally at four in the morning on the OU. They're ashamed of it. It shows up their glaring failure.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------xbodnotbodx - 05:42pm May 19, 2005 BST (#6 of 12)
I watched the other episode with the flashing goggles etc. What a load of old bollocks.
If you wrote down the information content (ie, saw the script) the amount of factual content you're asked to digest is negligible, isn't it?
There was a ludicrous ten minutes or so where he starts by saying:
"So, why was it, after being obsessed with images for thousands of years, man forgot them...?"
He then prattles on pointlessly for 8 minutes, to conclude:
"So, in fact, man *didn't* forget images at all."
So, I agree. The programme is pants.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Little Richardjohn - 08:33pm May 19, 2005 BST (#7 of 12) Delete

This is the worst documentary programme ever made.
Possibly the worst programme of any kind.
Not only scores a pencil-in-the-eye rating for being patronizing, but it insists that everything - all human civilisation - is the result of religious devotion and its marketing machine.
It's an outrageous bit of opportunism riding on religious hysteria.
Priests invented agriculture - to feed the faithful temple builders slaving away devotedly in the blazing sun?!
I mean, you would, wouldn't you.
"Some kind of scene happenning over in the mountains, they want us to salve away most of our adult lives on some big stones, fancy? Leave the family, it's this new thing - 'holy' they said. All the rage now apparently. So the family will be taken care of, they said. What'll we eat? They say they're working on something, bits of grass, something.
Look, you've eaten grass before... I know you're not a goat. Look do you fancy it or not, they say there'll be nekkid women. Tommorrow then? Your donkey or mine?"
It is SUCH bollox it goes right off the meter.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------xbodnotbodx - 02:20am May 20, 2005 BST (#8 of 12)

And there's a problem, on all channels, with programmes that go into history where it is difficult to show (in the strict visual sense) what is being conveyed in the narration.
So, you get these hour long documentaries, with very thin content and - due to a low budget - you have a blurred handycam shot of a spinning chariot wheel cut in every 5 minutes.
Or the same forlorn actor hoves into view, charging with a sword every time a bit of aggression is mentioned.
Rostrum cameras pan slowly over candle-lit parchment - probably not an actual bit of parchment saying anything actually involved with what the narrator is saying, but who will know? It fills up the screen 'n' looks luvverly, dunnit?
So, yeah, I agree with your exasperation, though I'm probably not wise enough to identify this feudal seam you've found them mining.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Little Richardjohn - 04:23pm May 20, 2005 BST (#9 of 12) Delete

Yup. It's big, it's ugly, it's flashy, it's still here - must be a temple.
Well I say the stone circles in Turkey are the remains of the first Lap-dancing joint.
Why? Because they are. The Spiv doesn't offer much more evidence than that.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Zozimus - 01:49am May 28, 2005 BST (#10 of 12)
It's poor. There should be a health warning on the screen at all times during the transmission of tendentious programs like these. It's what they do when reports from partisan sources are labelled "so-and-so propaganda film" in one corner of the screen.
Bronowski's series was superb. When it was first shown it filled our conversations and each episode was watched with fascination and respect. But maybe no art can be sustained at the highest level continuously, and if there are bound to be mediocrities then here they all come, like buses in convoy.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Little Richardjohn - 12:23pm May 28, 2005 BST (#11 of 12) Delete
Remember the scene in Ascent where the nomadic tribe leave the old man behind to die because he was too old to ford the river that year?
Meanwhile, the adolescent boys are undergoing a Rite of Passsage by fording the river for the first time unaided.
With the old man watching from the bank, knowing he is going to die.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Zozimus - 04:50pm May 28, 2005 BST (#12 of 12)
Yes, and Bronowski on his knees in the mud of Auschwitz, grappling with the mud in his hands and quoting, 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.'

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