In 79 AD, one of the infamous natural disasters in human history occurred when Mount Vesuvius erupted. With speculative dramatizations of various inhabitants' final hours along with detailed documentation of the known facts concerning the eruption, the horrific day is vividly brought to life. In addition, the modern situation of life around Mount Vesuvius is shown and the overhanging danger that is still there today. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
The first thing I ever really learned about the Roman Empire was about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79. I was in Grade 4 or 5 at the time, and read a book (I don't remember the title) that described Pompeii's last day from the perspective of a young boy in the city. The book drew me into the events and gave me a lifelong curiosity about the eruption and the people who experienced it. This superb BBC documentary takes on the same challenge - and pulls it off spectacularly. With a narration that offers a lot of important historical and scientific information combined with some excellent dramatic recreations of the events, which include graphic descriptions of the horrific ways in which some people died, and with archaeological footage mixed in especially near the end (the body casts and skeletons that have been found are such poignant reminders of the fact that real people suffered and died in this cataclysm) this production is absolutely fascinating, and anyone with even a remote interest in what happened on August 24 AD79 should take the time to watch this.
About the only criticism I would make is of a perhaps overly dramatic end. Noting that 3 million people now live in the area surrounding Vesuvius, the narration notes that such eruptions occur about every two thousand years - meaning the time is ripe for another. I've actually come across nothing suggesting such a specific timetable, and suspect that was included just to heighten the drama as the program came to its end. If so, it wasn't necessary. Vesuvius may well erupt again. I know the Italian government actually keeps a close watch on it and has evacuation plans ready for the region if need be. But even if it never erupts again, the eruption of AD79 and the ensuing nightmare it threw so many into will never be forgotten.
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