Friday, January 2, 2009

The Ascent of Man - Jacob Bronowski

The 13-part series was shot on 16mm film. Executive Producer was Adrian Malone, film directors Dick Gilling, Mick Jackson, David Kennard, David Paterson. Malone and Kennard later emigrated to Hollywood, where they produced Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Jackson followed them, and now directs feature films.

The title alludes to The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin. Over the course of thirteen episodes, Bronowski travelled around the world in order to trace the development of human society through its understanding of science. It was written specifically to complement Kenneth Clark's Civilisation (1969), in which Clark argued that art was a major driving force in cultural evolution.

Bronowski wrote in his 1951 book "The Commonsense of Science" : "It has been one of the most destructive modern prejudices that art and science are different and somehow incompatible interests". Both series had been commissioned by David Attenborough, then controller of BBC2, although he had moved on by the time The Ascent of Man was aired.

Although this is an aging documentary series, it is without a doubt one of the most authorative in its field...a must see!

PART ONE - Lower than the Angels (describes evolution of the head)

PART TWO - The Harvest of the Seasons (agriculture and the first settlements)

PART THREE - The Grain in the Stone (tools, early human migration)

PART FOUR - The Hidden Structure (fire, metals and alchemy)

PART FIVE - Music of the Spheres (the language of numbers)

PART SIX -The Starry Messenger (Galileo's universe)

PART SEVEN -The Majestic Clockwork (explores Kepler and Newton's laws)

PART EIGHT -The Drive for Power (the Industrial Revolution)

PART NINE -The Ladder of Creation (Darwin and Wallace's ideas on the origin of species)

PART TEN -World within World (the story of the periodic table)

PART ELEVEN -Knowledge or Certainty (There is no absolute knowledge)

PART TWELVE -Generation upon Generation (cloning of identical forms)

PART THIRTEEN -The Long Childhood (The commitment of man)

Own this eternal documentary classic on DVD...


Anonymous said...

Ha! I was just about to suggest this superb series.

Andy Holroyd said...

Many thanks for this post. 1st class.

Anonymous said...


bfumey said...

excellent really - there is only a pb for the last 2 videos : they are the same ones posted with N0 12 and 13. could you re check ? thanks