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Follow-up to 'America the Story of Us'. Mankind embraces a groundbreaking way of telling this epic human story. Drawing on a growing global interest in a revelatory field of history, now adopted by universities across the globe. 'Big history' focuses on the forces of nature to show how mankind's path is guided by events that stretch back, not hundreds, but thousands, even millions of years. How the power of science, from geology and astronomy, to physics and biology, combined to shape our shared human journey. Revealing astounding global connections, and an astonishing interconnected story. This is history without limits. Free from boundaries and politics. Our story, like it's never been told before. Written by
Himself - Narrator:
[opening narration for each episode]
Amidst the chaos of an unforgiving planet most species will fail. But for one, all the pieces will fall into place, and a set of keys will unlock a path for mankind to triumph. This is our story, the story of all of us.
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Of all the epic History serials I've seen so far, I liked this one the least. It is a daunting task to retell the entire history of human civilization, but a lot of the potential is destroyed through a very unsympathetic presentation.
It begins with the tediously dramatic narrator, who puts so much emphasis on every single sentence that before long you wish you could tune him out. It doesn't help that most sentences are kept extremely short, which is at first irritating, then starts to feel condescending. You'll wish the narrator back, though, once you start to meet the interviewees featured. Not only are many of them completely absurd picks for the topics at hand (a Navy SEAL? A writer? A news anchor?), but a couple of them are downright annoying to watch and listen to. They couldn't find any historians, archaeologists or anthropologists who could give well-founded informationwithout all the theatrics?
The parts I disliked the least are, surprisingly, those I usually hate most in documentaries: the CGI scenes and reenactments. The reenactments work remarkably well because they're not overstated and, funnily, not overly dramatized. At least their pathos fades in comparison to that of the narrator and "experts". While reenactments usually feel like a very cheap and childish part of a serious documentary, those in Mankind were not at all bad. Similarly for the CGI scenes, which somehow seemed way less cheesy than the usual fare. They're allowed to be dramatic, and there's a few ridiculous ones, like for instance the Sphinx at the end of the first part, but overall they knew their place and were pretty well done.
The story is, no doubt, a fascinating one. What might be a matter of personal preference is that I felt the series spent too much time on the latter stages. I would have preferred the final 4 parts compressed into 2, leaving more room for detail in the earlier chapters. But all in all, if you're not just looking for the next History box-set but have an actual interest in the topic, and considering that this 9-hour behemoth is a considerable time investment, there are many better alternatives out there.
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