Appellate Judge James A. Stewart wants to visit the world's oldest restaurant, if they have good french fries.
"This series of journeys is a search…a search for those first civilizations and their continuing legacy."
Where was the start of civilization? That's easy: in Iraq, at the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. If you want a bit of a harder answer: with the first cities. In Legacy: The Origins of Civilization, host Michael Wood (The Story of India) travels to the places where civilization started and grew, showing the connections between the ancient cultures and the modern world.
Legacy: The Origins of Civilization features six episodes on three discs:
• "India: Empire of the Spirit"
• "Egypt: The Habit of Civilization"
• "Europe: The Barbarian West"
Wood sounds enthusiastic about his subject, even as he's buffeted by wind as he walks in the desert. There, he contentedly picks up pieces of plates and other artifacts. While he doesn't tell you everything you'll ever need to know about civilization, his overview provides a good starting point. At his best, Wood illustrates his points deftly, as when he tours a Chinese outdoor food court to show how ancient spiritual thinking continues into everyday life. At times, Legacy can move through points too fast, though.
Chances are you won't be able to keep track of all the names, dates, and places, but Athena kindly includes text bios on great thinkers on the DVD, along with a booklet that can be used as a study guide. I'll note that I'd have liked a few more text bios, but their supplementary materials are otherwise first-rate.
The picture on this relatively recent documentary series is sharp and clear.
With the help of the booklet and text features on the DVD, Legacy becomes a useful learning tool. Since there are glimpses of naked bathers and statues, use it at your own risk in the classroom.
Not guilty, even for those of us who wouldn't go around picking up pieces of plate in a windy desert.
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