PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Empires-Egypt's Golden Empire (Roadshow) (2001)

Empires-Egypt's Golden Empire (Roadshow) (2001)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 7-Apr-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Trailer-The Empires Series
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 164:01
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (26:12) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Richard Bradley
Ciara Byrne
James Hawes
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Keith David
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $44.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This is a fascinating documentary focusing on the 'Golden Age' of Egyptian history. It covers the period from 1560 BC to 1080 BC, a period that starts when Egyptian history was already 1,000 years old. It focuses particularly on the people, the pharaohs that ruled and their subjects. It covers what we know about these people, which is a surprising amount, their politics, the battles they fought and of course the monuments that they built.

    This period was some time after the pyramids had been built and is when they concentrated on massive temples. I have watched many documentaries on Egypt and they often concentrate on the earlier period, and in particular the pyramids. While the pyramids are truly awe-inspiring when seen in real life, I was astounded at the temples that they had built. Whilst massive, the pyramids are really just a pile of big blocks when it comes down to it, whereas the temples are incredibly engineered and built structures that make any other building that I have seen pale in comparison. The pyramids are relatively devoid of decoration, the temples are literally covered with relief carving - every square metre is covered. One temple complex is so large that you could take all the cathedrals in Europe and fit them within the grounds. This all came as a surprise to me. As I mentioned, the documentaries that I had seen previous to this one concentrated on the pyramids, and left out this period of history and its architecture completely.

    The amount of information about the daily lives of the Egyptians in the documentary is simply astounding. Their daily correspondence has survived and we see into a society that is thousands of years old. The documentary is a combination of talking heads intercut with either footage of the particular site where the event happened (as it looks now) or with re-enactments. The re-enactments are typical for a documentary, with a small number of people acting out the battle or other activity but filmed very closely so that you appear to be only seeing a small portion of a much larger scene. Occasionally they run the camera over a particular statue one too many times but this is only a minor complaint.

    There are three episodes each running for just over 54 minutes each.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The quality of the image is in inverse proportion to the amount of light available. In darker scenes, there is a lot of grain which does affect the picture quality.

    Presented at 1.75:1 and 16x9 enhanced, this is most likely its original aspect ratio or very close to it.

    The image is sharp in well lit scenes and shadow detail is good. In some scenes where there is very little light, such as a burning torch (second episode, 5:14) there is a large amount of grain which has triggered a corresponding amount of low level noise. This is bad enough in some places to look like a series of black worms crawling over the screen. Some of the desert scenes are also quite high contrast with people's faces left in dark shadow.

    There are some wonderful colours in some scenes, again dependent on the lighting but still very good overall.

    Other than the low level noise there are no MPEG artefacts present. There is some aliasing and this has created some shimmering on detailed gold objects such as at 1:49 in the first episode. Film artefacts other than the grain are very rare and limited to the occasional white speck.

    There are subtitles for the hearing impaired and they are easy to read and accurate.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change at 26:12 in the second episode. It is on a scene change with no music so is basically invisible.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     There is a single English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack on this disc.

    Dialogue quality is excellent and there are no problems with the audio sync.

    The music is good and paces well with the story that is being told. The only incongruous part is the use of what sounds like Gregorian chants for some of the religious scenes.

    Engaging surround decoding works quite well with the music and some ambient effects being decoded. There are also some surround effects during the re-enacted battle scenes that help draw you into the action.

    The soundtrack is quite wide-ranging. In particular, they use a large skin drum at times to build tension and highlight some moments, helped along by the subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is presented at 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. It is a static image of a statue of Queen Nefertiti and is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Empire Series

    A page of text on each of the other titles in the Empire series. Interesting reading that makes me want to search out the rest of the series.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    Reviews of the Region 1 version talk about some MPEG encoding problems probably due to squeezing this length of material onto a single layer. They also talk about the soundtrack for the third episode being distorted. Ours sounds the same as the first two episodes giving us a solid Region 4 win.


    This is an extremely well made documentary that is fascinating to watch. It explores Egyptian life in incredible detail and gives a whole new perspective of an ancient civilization. The voice of Keith David is perfect for the narration and while the video quality does vary a little I recommend that you see this even if you are only mildly interested in Egypt.

    The video quality does vary.

    The audio is good for a documentary.

    There are no real extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Terry K