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Pompeii: Back from the Dead (2011)

As destruction rained on Pompeii, 74 men, women and children hid in a dark cellar. They clung to life as Vesuvius raged, only to become the last people to die in the disaster. Their bones ... See full summary »

Directors:

Paul Elston, Steffan Boje (co-director)

Writer:

Paul Elston
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Cast

Credited cast:
John R. Clarke John R. Clarke ... Himself - University of Texas (as Prof. John R. Clarke)
Fabian Kanz Fabian Kanz ... Himself - Forensic Anthropologist, Medical University of Vienna (as Dr Fabian Kanz)
Antonia Raftu Antonia Raftu
Andrew Wallace-Hadrill ... Himself - Master, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (as Prof. Andrew Wallace-Hadrill)
Don Wildman ... Himself - Presenter
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Storyline

As destruction rained on Pompeii, 74 men, women and children hid in a dark cellar. They clung to life as Vesuvius raged, only to become the last people to die in the disaster. Their bones reveal much about the way the people of Pompeii lived - and died. Written by Anonymous

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Certificate:

TV-14
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 April 2011 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Elämää Pompeijissa See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Color:

Color
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User Reviews

 
Intriguing Attempt at Ancient Historical Reconstruction
8 September 2015 | by l_rawjalaurenceSee all my reviews

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill has made quite a niche for himself as a presenter of programs on ancient history. As well as a slew of documentaries about Pompeii - of which this is a good example - he has also fronted material on Ancient Greece and Rome, most recently in BUILDING THE ANCIENT CITY (BBC Four, 2015).

The structure of these programs takes a familiar form. The presenter is seen in a variety of situations talking direct to camera, trying his best not to sound like a university lecturer but actually failing to escape his academic shackles. The camera-work focuses on the ancient sites, often in close-ups or panning shots, trying to bring out its essence while desperately avoiding the hordes of tourists taking selfies or listening to their guides giving potted histories of the sites. The presenter enlists the help of a variety of experts, most of them originating from the Anglo-American academic context - as it is easier to communicate with them rather than the locals. If locals are interviewed, they are frequently seen in two-shots with the presenter in a rather forced conversational exchange where each speaks their own language. The off-screen presence of an interpreter is conveniently ignored. Add to that some stirring music to emphasize the importance of the subject, and you have a serio-populist work.

BACK FROM THE DEAD, like BUILDING THE ANCIENT CITY, offers some valuable information as to the history of the site. We are given introductions to the principles of democracy - that elusive concept known as government by the people for the people - and Wallace- Hadrill emphasizes how it worked reasonably effectively at that time, unlike today. Then we are given some idea of how cataclysmic events destroyed that apparent peace: in the case of Pompeii, it was a natural disaster. Nothing was ever the same afterwards, which helps to explain why life in ancient times is so often represented in idealistic terms, especially in television documentaries.

I am not criticizing the form in which the material has been presented; to a large extent, it makes for fascinating television, even if Wallace-Hadrill's narration becomes somewhat difficult to follow. On the other hand, the structure does become a little over- familiar at times.


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