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-The Greeks: Crucible of Civilisation (Roadshow) (1999)

Empires-The Greeks: Crucible of Civilisation (Roadshow) (1999)

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 Introduction
Main Menu Audio
Trailer-The Empires Series
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 165:02
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Cassian Harrison
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Liam Neeson
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $44.95 Music Simon Fisher Turner
Michael Gibbs

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 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 another instalment in the Empires series. This time we examine Greek history from the 5th and 4th Centuries BC, a period that saw the birth and finally the destruction of the first ever democracy.

    The history contained within this documentary is fascinating; you see the very first democracy come into being. Many of the principles and procedures that they developed have entered into the common language and are still in use more than 2300 years later! The documentary again focuses on the people involved, both in general with the entire population and in particular with Cleisthenes, Themistocles and of course Socrates. There were just so many things that were invented or developed in Greece in this period: the foundation of modern science, philosophy, plays (the famous Greek tragedies), and more.

    The documentary is again presented as a series of interviews and voiceovers with footage of the ruins of the Greek civilisation as well as some of the characters represented by actors dressed for the occasion but standing as still as statues as the camera pans over them. There are also some re-enactments but these are seriously marred by being shot deliberately out of focus; this went beyond annoying by the end of the three part series and you dreaded another re-enactment appearing on screen. Unlike the documentary on Egypt, the Greek antiquities are not as numerous, nor have they survived the centuries as well. This leads to more fill-in type footage than was present in the Egyptian documentary.

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

Transfer Quality


    While the image is presented at what is probably its original 1.75:1 aspect ratio is is unfortunately not 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness varies depending on the scene being viewed. Indoor material that is well lit is reasonably sharp but some of the darker material and external shots are soft. This is exacerbated by the constant video noise that is present in varying degrees throughout the entire presentation. This is bad enough in places to cause objects to shimmer and for fine detail to strobe such as the garments at 4:23 in the first episode. Shadow detail also varies but is good overall. There is abundant low level noise triggered by the video noise.

    The colours are fairly drab throughout and also affected by the noise.

    There are no major MPEG artefacts present. There is one strange artefact, though this is the second disc this month that I have seen it on, where a single line of pixels near the top of the screen repeats for about 40-odd lines creating a bar code effect on screen. This occurs at 47:57 in the second episode. The video noise has been mentioned and is annoying at times.

    The subtitles are accurate and relatively easy to read.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change placed at 27:24 during Episode 2. This is during a fade to black but the music is still playing and gives away the change.

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 good and Liam Neeson's commentary is excellent. There are no problems with the audio sync.

    The music is an appropriate orchestral score and works well with the story being told.

    This appears to be a mono soundtrack.

    There is little for the subwoofer to do.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    A static menu with a picture of a statue of a Greek warrior on the right and the menus on the left. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.


    A text page describing the other Empires that this series covers.

R4 vs R1

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

     This release appears identical across the regions.


    I have two small complaints about this series. The first is that the history is slightly paraphrased with a couple of important battles and a few other details omitted. The second is a personal bugbear I have with many historians in that they start from the proposition that the religion of a particular time was simply a diversion for the masses and make statements such as "The temple that was built (The Parthenon) was for the glory of the city", as opposed to the glory of the Goddess Athena who was one of the main deities of the city state. We cannot know why they built the temple, but as St Mary's Cathedral was not built for the glory of Sydney I wonder about their interpretation.

    The video is badly affected by noise.

    The audio is mono but perfectly functional.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Saturday, May 01, 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