Once Upon a Time... Man (1978– )
"Il était une fois... l'homme" (original title)

TV Series  -   -  Animation | Adventure | Drama
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 1,132 users  
Reviews: 10 user

A comprehensive animated survey of the evolution of humanity and the history of predominately Western Civilization.


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Title: Once Upon a Time... Man (1978– )

Once Upon a Time... Man (1978– ) on IMDb 8.1/10

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1981 | 1979 | 1978




Series cast summary:
Annie Balestra ...
 Pierette (26 episodes, 1978-1981)
Albert Barillé ...
 Narrator (26 episodes, 1978-1981)
Yves Barsacq ...
 Le Gros (26 episodes, 1978-1981)
Claude Bertrand ...
 Le Teigneux (26 episodes, 1978-1981)
Roger Carel ...
 Maestro / ... (26 episodes, 1978-1981)
Patrick Préjean ...
 Le Nabot (26 episodes, 1978-1981)


In this series, the history of humanity and Western Civilization is surveyed. To illustrate this in an entertaining way, a cast of specific characters are recast in each episode as they live their lives in each major historical period of focus. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Official Sites:



Release Date:

April 1978 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Il était une fois... l'homme  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(26 episodes) | (30 episodes)


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Did You Know?


The face of Jeremy/Colargol, the singing bear from a stop-motion animated series produced apparently by the same studio that produced this series, appears as an outline drawing in the opening credits sequence when the fish is transforming into the amphibian and leaving the water. See more »


Followed by Il était une fois... la vie (1986) See more »


Tausend Jahre sind ein Tag
Music by Udo Jürgens
Lyrics by Siegfried Rabe
Performed by Udo Jürgens
(main theme: German version)
See more »

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User Reviews

Fun and informative history series for kids aged 6 to 12
25 April 2007 | by See all my reviews

"Es war einmal der Mensch" (German) / "Once Upon a Time... Man" (English) is just about the next best children's program/series after "Es war einmal das Leben" (German) / "Once Upon a Time... Life" (English). History is a dry topic and as someone who always found it boring throughout school, even I like watching episodes of this series with our children and fondly remember seeing it as a kid when it originally aired.

The series is very well made, does not show its age, and our kids at various ages really like to watch it. At the same time, they gain knowledge about history us parents didn't have until way, way later. The series covers everything from the birth of the universe (assuming the Big Bang theory is correct), through evolution, prehistoric times, all centuries, to the last episode looking towards the future of humankind. While most episodes are great, some, around the dark ages, need the support of the fun characters as these times are really just a string of people's conquests, rebellions, new leaders, etc. (hence "only" 8 out of 10). The evolution is covered in a sensitive way, leaving some scope for interpretation of this topic which may be contentious with some people, and similarly, episodes covering religious events such as the birth of Jesus and Islam look only from a historic angle.

Throughout the series, familiar characters give a personal context to history. The topics covered are well balanced, globally speaking, and chosen for their significance. The last episode, looking towards the future of humankind one of the best, pondering increasing environmental destruction, pollution and wars and while presented for children's viewing is very worthwhile to watch for adults as well.

This is one of the best ever children's programs - I would say it's a must see for every family with kids!

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