|Index||6 reviews in total|
Terry Jones, tells the public how the myths really were. That Robin H.
wasn't as nice as he seemed to be, and that history is really told by
He has taken the python-esquire way of display, and it works out great. The graphics the humor and the sometimes very detailed look at things that happened.
Every program consists of one subject which will be analyzed and put against the way of life today.... No, not much change if you watch carefully.
If you are interested in history, but you don't want to be lectured, than this is a series for you!
Would be great BTW, if Terry Jones took a look at the rest of Europe/the world this way :)
As a history teacher, I will heartily agree that too often our history
is learned in such a dry and awful way that it's no wonder kids often
say they hate the subject. In addition, people assume that nothing
interesting or important happened during the Medieval period--like
everyone just sat around waiting to die (at about age 7). That's how I
was taught the subject by my teachers. Thank goodness for a television
series like MEDIEVAL LIVES, as it injects humor into the topic and is
told in a fascinating manner--and infuses the viewer with a sense that
the "Dark Ages" weren't quite so dark.
Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame) narrates this series and since there were no videos made during the time, knights, monks, serfs and the like are portrayed by animating them in a way reminiscent of Terry Gilliam (the guy who made the cartoons for Monty Python). And, given our newer technology, in many cases Jones himself is able to walk through these paintings and interact with the characters! Additionally, he travels throughout Europe to illustrate the locales talked about in the shows--which talk about such topics as the monk, the knight, minstrels, and peasants.
I have copied these shows when they came on television and given them out to my students to watch. These students who previously thought this time period was dull came back energized--laughing at Jones' antics and realizing how important and interesting history can be when properly taught! A must for anyone.
This show is great, you can learn a lot of fun facts from it (even if you have knowledge of the time period already you still find out some interesting stuff from time to time) and the Mony Pythonish way all is brought is hilarious, especially the multiple characters Terry Jones portrayals, from monk to knight to...damsel LOL, but even so you don't want to learn it's still good to watch for the sheer fun factor of it all. truly on of the more interesting docu's you'll find out there if you like this also check out Ancient lives (also Terry Jones here) who i have seen so far (dont know if there are more) Roman life, and Egyptian life.
While the host, Terry Jones is most popularly known for his role(s) as
part of the Monty Python gang, he also wears the high-brow hats of
author and historian. He has been involved in producing both video and
written works covering the lives, struggles and daily work (for example
the series "Worst Jobs in History") of people through the ages, ancient
and historical inventions (the series aptly titled *Ancient
Inventions"), the history of mathematics/numbers (documentary: "The
Story of 1"), and more. His numerous published works include several
non-fiction histories, children's books and an in-depth speculative
look into the mysterious disappearance of the famous Chaucer ("Who
killed Chaucer? A real life Medieval Murder Mystery" NF). While not an
"academic", Terry Jones definitely exhibits a love and knowledge of
history, and obviously believes that education doesn't have to be dull.
I have found all of his works to accurately reflect prevailing opinions
about his subjects for the time of production.
You can be sure that Jone's videos are highly entertaining, educational and informative while steeped in G-rated humor (with perhaps some sly innuendo, which will quietly fly right over most youngsters' heads). Terry Jones is well-known for dressing in drag as part of his Monty Python skits, and there is no shortage of cross-dressing in his historical videos, to great effect. He's a wonderful sport about steeping himself quite literally into the lives of his historical subjects (hilarious and sometimes "awfully funny"--emphasis on "awfully" in "Worst Jobs in History"), which makes his presentations original, funny and humanizing. It's too easy to forget that our ancestors were all people just like us. Terry Jones has a wonderful way of bringing history warmly, respectfully, richly alive for all ages.
My only criticism is that I felt the segments were too short for each time period (which is more of a problem of the nature of the medium and not a question of quality). Both BBCand PBS often direct viewers to alternative sources for more information (both of which have aired these shows--and if I remember right, one or the other sponsored these productions).
I was a little put off by the other commenter when they spoke of the
playful nature of this series because I generally prefer my facts to be
undiluted. Unfortunately comedic documentaries tend to blur the line
between fact and fiction to the point where the more extreme facts seem
doubtful and certainly wouldn't hold up in conversation.
However, this series does a fantastic job of keeping the subject light hearted while still being dense with facts. The general structure of each episode is a brief introduction to the "stereotype" and then the rest of the episode focuses on deconstructing that stereotype, sometimes even showing where the misconception came from.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Guess what? Most of what we think we know about the middle ages is
actually: The Middle Ages as interpreted by the Victorians, and was
neatly adjusted to fit the mores of their time. Terry Jones peels away
this Victorian smokescreen and gets rid of all the popular clichés
about witches, chivalry,(lack of)science and chaste helpless damsels in
a refreshing way. This documentary series is whimsical enough to be
enjoyed by a twelve year old, but at the same time so factual,
informative, and well researched that it will please... everyone
really. For example, Jones walks through actual medieval art during his
explanations, which is not just funny, but also an actual 'academically
Every episode has its own theme: The Peasant (Feudal Farming and the Farmers rebellion), The Monk (Religion), The Damsel (Woman and sexuality), The Minstrel (Music, acting, and court culture), The Night, The Philosopher (science), The Outlaw (Law and Order), and the King. In these times where history having to do with woman seems to be out of fashion or deemed unimportant again, I particularly enjoyed The Damsel.
Do yourself a favour and check it out!
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