"epic piece of television"
"a fascinating watershed in the history of mass communication"
"an ironic statement about civilisation itself"
'Civilisation' is an epic piece of television and cultural history and a
lesson in the art of communication.
Civilization by Kenneth Clark
Kenneth Clark (1903-83) was a distinguished English art
historian, and very much a member of the old school. Patrician,
cultured, privileged, he saw art as somehow pure, as untouched
by the corruption of politics and materialism. 'Civilisation' is
not so much a television series as a lecture series, one which
represents a fascinating watershed in the history of mass
communication ... and an ironic statement about civilisation
'Civilisation' took three years to make, and was released in
1969, only two years after the BBC had ventured into colour
broadcasting. Itself made in colour, the series was seen as a
taking a huge risk. The BBC had - still has - a responsibility
to produce educational and informative work, to stimulate and
uplift, but the 1960's was a transitional era. On the one hand
there was the tradition of high art, of Oxbridge dons delivering
lectures on arcane subjects or broadcasting intellectual
debates, on the other hand, the universities were being
occupied, popular culture had suddenly become fashionable, and
America's Vietnam war was throwing into question the very nature
of culture, civilisation, and the power of any one class or
country to impose its will and its definitions on others.
Each episode hangs upon the shoulders of one of the great men
of the age - Michelangelo, Beethoven. Clark explores Western
civilisation ... and selectively. The overall theme is
optimistic - the barbarism of the 20th century did not destroy
civilisation or crush the spirit of man. Art gives us hope,
gives us reassurance, says Clark.
But the lasting strength of
'Civilisation' is in its own contribution to civilisation. A
vast undertaking, a huge gamble, the series set the tone for
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