|Index||5 reviews in total|
I was looking forward greatly to seeing this series, since Cook -- and even more so Banks -- have been central figures in my own research into the scientific discourse of the eighteenth century. Unfortunately, I gave up halfway through the first episode, due to the distasteful -- almost embarrassing -- style of the presenter, Vanessa Collingridge. She seems to be unable to make up her mind whether she's running a game show, presenting a soap-powder commercial, or trying to get a date with the cameraman (or the audience). Her high-pitched, breathless, girlish delivery, her perpetual flirtatious smile, her naively over-dramatic style, made at least this viewer very uncomfortable. They also deprive her of any authority -- which is a pity, since she probably knows quite a lot about her subject. All in all, a great disappointment.
'One problem with learning about history in the school room is that
many incredible feats are reduced to dates and basic details. If only
all tales were recounted like Captain James Cook's in this fantastic
four-part documentary. Gripping stuff.'
The program removes Cook from the comfort zones customarily created for him and shows him as both a brilliant but flawed and driven man. He left an extraordinary legacy in scientific terms. This was effected by dedication to his purpose and his duty which overrode the demands of his personal health and safety leading ultimately to his death. As it is interesting to the scholar as well as to the neophyte, Captain Cook: obsession and discovery sets a new standard for a well- researched history which is vivid, exciting and accessible.'
NSW Premier's History awards
'THUMBS UP! Narrator Vanessa Collingridge manages to draw the viewer into this majestic journey with her bountiful enthusiasm.'
Sydney Morning Herald
'An intriguing examination of the way technology, society and the man's own talents combined to produce a figure who, quite literally, changed the world.'
'It's a lively presentation of history supported with good vision of the exotic scenes Cook encountered: tropical orgies, New Zealand cannibals and hip-throbbing Tahitian dancers.'
"Must See TV'
'The location work in Yorkshire, Canada, New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii and Australia is wondrous to see.'
Sydney Morning Herald, Show of the Week
'This enthralling documentary carefully balances the insights and narrative of British author Vanessa Collingridge and re-enactments of Cook's expeditions without interfering with the enthralling story that unfolds.'
Sydney Morning Herald
Time Out Magazine
Review of Captain Cook, "Obsession and Discovery"
Feminist film-maker is obsessed with the fact that Captain Cook was obsessed that he was driven to irrational activities that included (1) Circling the Islands of Hawaii before landing there the second time (well, maybe he was mapping them. That's what Captain Cook did, he made maps.) (2) Taking a very long time proceeding slowly up the west coast of North America (Well, maybe he was mapping this too. That's what Captain Cook did!!!) (3) Having passed through the Bering Straits, he spent a lot of time up there in the ice. It made people uncomfortable. (Well, maybe Captain Cook was searching for the North West Passage. That's what he was sent from England for.)
Since going to New Zealand, I've read three books about Captain Cook. None of them mentioned anything about his irrational behaviour. Where did this authoress get her new information from, that all previous writers had missed?
She interviewed natives at or near Nootka. These natives said that life was much better before Captain Cook came. Now this was 260 years ago, about 20 generations back. These natives before Captain Cook came were illiterate stone age primitives with no written language.
How did these natives being interviewed know what life was like before Captain Cook came? When they were saying that life was better before Captain Cook came, they were standing in front of house made with sawed timber ... timber sawed in sawmills run with the white man's steel saws. They weren't standing in front of leaky drafty "long-houses" made with rough hewn lumber painstakingly drawn out with stone adzes. They were wearing clothing made on the white man's looms and cotton mills, not hand sewn clothing made from pine needles or the bast fibres from yellow cedar. If life was better before Captain Cook came, why aren't they building houses the same way and wearing clothes made in the traditional style.
The interviewer under heavy questioning forced the native woman to admit that the natives suffered as a result of Captain Cook's visit, indeed, the women were raped. The native woman being interviewed had great insight into what happened twenty generations ago. The Cooks ship's surgeon described the faces of the native people as "plentifully daubed over with read oaker, Soot, and other dirt, which rendered them perfectly disgusting to us."
A sad fact of life these days seems to be a lack of interest displayed
by "Generation Y" for historical studies. There has been a noticeable
decline in the numbers of High School students who wish to continue
studying history into tertiary level; the events of 200 years ago seem
remote and uninteresting - anything further back is too far to look.
The reason why Captain Cook: Obsession and Discovery is so important is that it is intended to speak to these young people; to help enthuse and excite curiosity about events which were and still are so important to the history of the world. It is a series which is clearly not meant to satisfy died-in-the-wool historians, with, for instance, detailed analysis of the workings of late 18th century sailing ships. For example, Vanessa Colleridge refers to the rigging of the Endeavor as looking like a "Spider's party". Cringe! As someone who enjoys the wonderful writings of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series of books I find this somewhat frustrating. However, information on the Endeavor's rigging can be found elsewhere, and I know where to look.
The insights provided by the likes of Professor Andrew Lambert and Emeritus Prof. Robert Clancy add valuable ballast to the programs. Fortunately Colleridge allows their opinions to flow without the ignorant interruptions which can so often destroy the value of having such people included. The overuse of hyperbole and an occasional drift into the shallow waters of cliché can jar and the sudden switches in location can be confusing. However, I cannot fault Colleridge's depth of knowledge, and her enthusiasm is obvious and infectious. The quality of the re-enactments is high-class and the overall production is very good, with the locations chosen providing good background to the historical content. As for the overwhelming PC-ness which has been claimed elsewhere? PC has itself become a comfortable, politically correct term which is nowadays mostly abused and overused by people who don't like certain points of view. There is nothing overwhelmingly PC about admiring a woman who had to stay at home and watch several children suffer and die, with her husband thousands of miles away. Even historians should be allowed some degree of compassion and empathy.
IMHO Vanessa Colleridge has succeeded in creating a series which, it is to be hoped, will engender an interest and enthusiasm amongst the intended "Generation Y" audience for further study of the life and times of Captain James Cook, and his all-to easily overlooked wife Elizabeth. For this reason the series deserves a good pass mark
"I am interested in history ... Vanessa Collingridge in the documentary
series, 'Captain Cook: Obsession and Discovery', so often expresses the
character of Cook and his deeds in his voyages of discovery in these
fashionably emotive terms that I had trouble remembering that this was
the narrative of actual historical events, of historical facts, the
words 'obsession' and 'passion' and their derivatives being repeated so
often in this series."
"fashionably emotive" ... "policially correct" ???
Look up the word hypothesis in the dictionary Kobalt64, you may actually learn something about history.
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