Western Civilization: A Critical Guide to Documentary Films

By Neil M. Heyman | Go to book overview

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY, FRENCH REVOLUTION, AND NAPOLEON

Adam Smith and the Wealth of Nations
28 minutes color
1976 Liberty Fund

Summary: A verbose and technical introduction to the ideas of the great economist of the eighteenth century


Grade: C

The film employs a narrator, prints from the time, quotes from Smith's writings, visits to historical locales, and scenes of present-day economic activity. The theme of the film is Smith's role as an intellectual innovator whose views stressed the need to limit government's role in directing the economy.

Adam Smith and the Wealth of Nations starts with a view of a construction site. It is accompanied by a quotation from Smith describing the complex nature of economic activity and the advantages of a division of labor. The narrator then describes Smith's position criticizing the prevailing doctrine of mercantilism, which provided for government control over trade.

The bulk of the film consists of a sketch of Smith's life. It shows his birthplace in Scotland and the universities where he studied and taught, and it describes his grand tour of Europe that led him to write his great book of economy theory, The Wealth of Nations. The film goes on to analyze Smith's views on the division of labor, his opposition to restrictions on the economic activity of Britain's North American colonies, and his general alarm at expanding governmental power.

The film contains fine photography. Scenes showing the buildings and works of art from this era evoke the atmosphere and culture of the eighteenth

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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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