Western Civilization: A Critical Guide to Documentary Films

By Neil M. Heyman | Go to book overview

PRE-HISTORY

The Harvest of the Seasons The Ascent of Man series)
52 minutes color
1974 BBC-TV

Summary: A lucid, slow paced description of human evolution from the stage of nomadic herdsmen to the era of settled agriculture


Grade: B

The film is an extended discussion by scientist Jacob Bronowski. Visits to important locales in the history of human development play a major part in this account. There are as well as several recently filmed sequences in Iran and Afghanistan showing how the practices of early nomadic communities continue to exist in the late twentieth century. Slow motion footage shows the growth of forms of plant life, and there are scenes illustrating twentieth-century warfare. The basic theme of the film is the way in which human groups made the spectacular leap from the life of nomadic herdsmen to become members of settled agricultural communities.

At the film's start, narrator Jacob Bronowski notes that the story of man's evolution from the close of the era of food gathering to the present covers a span of only twelve thousand years. Thus, by approximately 10,000 B.C., man had begun to domesticate animals and was on the verge of cultivating plants in a system of settled agriculture.

The first half of the film takes up an examination of the Bakhtiari nomads of Iran in the 1970s. Unlike the Lapps in Lower Than the Angels (qv.), the Bakhtiari control their flocks of sheep and goats and direct them to fresh

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Western Civilization: A Critical Guide to Documentary Films
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Pre-History 1
  • Ancient Greece 7
  • Ancient Rome 21
  • Christianity and Judaism 27
  • Early Middle Ages 33
  • Later Middle Ages - Art of the Middle Ages (Art and Architecture series) 41
  • Fourteenth Century 61
  • The Renaissance 65
  • Reformation and Counter-Reformation 81
  • Sixteenth Century: Wars, Politics, the Age of Discovery 89
  • Seventeenth Century 105
  • Eighteenth Century, French Revolution, and Napoleon 119
  • Nineteenth Century 137
  • Early Twentieth Century 155
  • World War I and the Aftermath 165
  • The Dictatorships 175
  • World War II and the Holocaust 191
  • Post-World War II Era 217
  • SUBJECT INDEX 223
  • SERIES INDEX 239
  • TITLE INDEX 241
  • About the Author 245
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