Beyond Imagination-Colosseum/Pompeii/Pyramid (2003)

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Released 8-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Making Of-The Pyramid
Notes-Fact Files
Featurette-Before and After Visual Effects Sequences
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Colosseum-A Composer's Story
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 158:49 (Case: 237)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jonathan Stamp
Tilman Remme
Peter Nicholson

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Robert Shannon
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music Martyn Swain
Ilan Eshkeri
Ty Unwin

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.75:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    This double disc set includes three BBC produced documentaries with very high production values. They focus on historical events but use a different approach to most previous documentaries. The approach is to mix normal documentary style filmmaking with filmmaking which would usually be associated with feature films. The producers take historical facts, including newly discovered details about the events in question, and use them to build a dramatic story around the historical event. They use actors to play particular historical characters such as Pliny, Pharoah Khufu or a particular Roman gladiator and in some cases characters which they have created based upon known facts about people who lived at the time such as the lead character in the Pyramid-Beyond Imagination documentary, Nakht. I get the impression that these documentaries were not necessarily a series as such but rather three separate productions done with a similar approach.

    The three documentaries are:

    My only criticism of these documentaries would be that they could sometimes be a little pompous and full of their own self worth.

    Overall, this is an interesting set of documentaries presented in a different way to most historical documentaries.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is generally very good.

    The feature is presented in a 1.75:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio (or very close to it).

    The picture was generally clear and sharp, with no evidence of low level noise. Some light grain was present, more obviously on the second disc containing documentaries 2 & 3.

    The colour was excellent throughout with all colours being well saturated and free from colour bleeding.

    There were only some minor artefacts including aliasing (e.g. at 1:50 on the pyramid) and a few white specks here and there.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired which were clear, easy to read and fairly exact to the spoken word.

    The first disc is single layered, so does not have a layer change and the second disc is dual layered but each program seems to be on a separate layer.

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


    The audio quality is good.

    This DVD contains only one audio option, a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s. This track performs perfectly adequately for the program at hand.

    The dialogue and voiceovers were clear and easy to understand.

    The scores of the three documentaries are by Martyn Swain, Ilan Eshkeri and Ty Unwin respectively. I thought they were all quite good, with Ilan Eshkeri's score for Colosseum being the most impressive. I thought the score by Martyn Swain was a little pompous which increased this feeling in this particular documentary.

    The surround speakers added a little atmosphere when the soundtrack was played using ProLogicII but little more.

    The subwoofer was not used.


Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras are quite plentiful on these discs and are available for all three titles.


    The menu systems were simple to use and included scene selection and music from the documentaries.

Pyramid - Making Of (14:15)

    An interesting featurette about the challenges faced by the crew in recreating a great pyramid. Includes interviews and details of costumes, casting and the 18 month production cycle. It is spoiled slightly by a monotonal voice-over.

Pyramid - Fact Files

    15 items of quite interesting trivia about the pyramids and their construction.

Pyramid - Before & After Visual Effects (3:25)

    This featurette compares mock-ups with the final visual effects shot of the pyramid.

Pyramid - Photo Gallery

    A selection of approximately 20 stills mostly taken from the feature itself

Pyramid - Trailers (1:57)

    A compilation of the various trailers used on the BBC to promote this show.

Colosseum - A Composer's Story (17:09)

    It seems to me that a 17 minute featurette on the score for a 50 minute documentary is overkill. This is proved correct as this is only marginally interesting and gets boring after about 5 minutes.

Colosseum - Interviews

    There are 6 separate interviews which are quite interesting as follows:

Colosseum - Fact Files

    Five pages of interesting trivia.

Pompeii - Interviews

    There are two interesting interviews included here as follows:

Pompeii - Fact Files

    5 text pages of interesting trivia about the eruption.

R4 vs R1

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

    Despite this being a BBC production, I cannot find any evidence of this set being available anywhere except Region 4.


    This disc contains an interesting set of documentaries about the ancient world which include fact based dramatisation.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The disc has a wide selection of quite interesting extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, August 09, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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