Western Civilization: A Critical Guide to Documentary Films

Western Civilization: A Critical Guide to Documentary Films

Western Civilization: A Critical Guide to Documentary Films

Western Civilization: A Critical Guide to Documentary Films


Offering critical reviews of over 170 widely available documentaries, this book provides a unique guide for instructors teaching the History of Western Civilization and specialized European history courses. Coverage is from ancient times to the post World War II era. Selecting films that instructors would be likely to consider using, Heyman provided lengthy critical evaluations. Each evaluation includes a brief summary, a letter grade from A to D, a discussion of the film's technique, a consideration of its organization, and in most instances, a specific statement of its strong and weak points.


The purpose of this book is to present useful and critical reviews of a significant number of historical documentaries. the reviews are intended primarily to aid instructors teaching courses in the History of Western Civilization. But they should also prove of assistance for those teaching in more specialized areas of European history.

The number of films available for rental from major film collections, either those affiliated with universities or those offered by free standing commercial organizations, is vast. the one hundred seventy-three films offered here were selected with several factors in mind.

These are films likely to attract the eye of an instructor teaching Western Civilization or related courses. Most of them are available at reasonable cost from at least one major rental organization, and many can be purchased outright at reasonable cost. I have found the vast majority of the films available for rental from audio-visual collections at the following institutions: Indiana University, Iowa State University, Kent State University, the University of Minnesota, and Penn State University.

The selection of films began with several widely used series that have been available for a long period of time. Kenneth Clark's Civilization series in thirteen episodes is the outstanding example. All episodes of this kind of production have been reviewed. Beyond such serial works, I have added individual titles that loom large in film catalogues. Some come from areas that are widely covered in documentary film; others come from areas where there are few titles. in each case, a primary criterion has been the likelihood an instructor would consider using such a film to aid his students' understanding of a given topic. Some of the films are too recent to be listed in current catalogues; these have been chosen because of their inherent interest and the great likelihood they will become available for rental in the immediate future. a few films of significant quality, e.g., Good-bye Billy:
America Goes to War
, 1917-1918, are . . .

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