Imperium-Fall of Great Empires (2004)

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Released 7-Jul-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 197:00 (Case: 200)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By None Given
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 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 1.75:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Imperium : Fall of Great Empires is a German made television series which was recently shown on SBS here in Australia. For the local television showing, an English voiceover was added as were English subtitles for the mostly German speaking academics who are interviewed. This same version is included here.

    This is an excellent documentary series giving some fascinating insights into the great empires of history and why they eventually fell apart, were conquered or dissolved. It covers four different empires over 4 x 50 minute episodes. It uses a combination of re-enactment, computer generated models and battle plans, interviews with academics, voiceover, some archival footage and visits to modern day archaeological digs. One small quibble is that the episodes on the disc are in a different order to what is shown on the box, with programs 1 and 2 swapped.

    The four episodes are:

  1. Death on the Nile - Covers the end of the Egyptian Empire including the roles of Cleopatra, Mark Antony, Octavian and Julius Caesar. The programs also spends some time covering the glories of Egypt including the pyramids and the development of writing.
  2. Storm over Persia - Obviously, this episode covers the end of the Persian empire, presided over by King Darius who was considered to be a great warrior before he came up against Alexander the Great. The show focuses on the tactics and superior weaponry which led to the end of the Persian Empire. Fascinating stuff.
  3. Fall of Carthage - Another excellent episode which covers the history and glory of Carthage including their impressive harbour. It also discusses their hard and barbaric culture which included child sacrifice. The main focus though is on Hannibal's long campaign through southern Europe and to the gates of Rome and his ultimate failure to conquer Rome despite coming very close.
  4. Battle for Rome - The best episode of the series which covers quite a lot of different theories about why Rome fell apart including decadence, their lead plumbing, the breakdown of Rome's desire to conquer the world, the rise of Christianity, the move to Constantinople and the invasion of the Germanic tribes.

    All in all, this is a very well made series which gives a new angle on the great empires by focusing on their fall rather than what made them great. Highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is acceptable, however jamming the 4 episodes onto one disc has lead to some low bitrate related issues.

    The feature is presented in a 1.75:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is probably the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was reasonably clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Some of the re-enactment scenes were quite soft, however, this seemed to be intentional. The low bitrate has resulted in quite obvious MPEG grain which is worst during the fourth episode. Shadow detail is fine but not spectacular.

    The colour was reasonable however there was some quite obvious colour bleeding, especially from light colours.

    Artefacts included some minor aliasing especially obvious in the computer generated sections and occasionally on walls, some mild edge enhancement and some moire and minor macro-blocking in Episode 4.

    There are no subtitles streams, however yellow subtitles are burnt in for the foreign language speaking academics.

    There is no obvious layer change - it is probably between episodes.

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


    The audio quality is good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The music by Klangraum is very very serious but does its job.

    The surround speakers added some mild atmosphere when the disc was played with Dolby Prologic II..

     The subwoofer added some bass to the music but this was a function of my amp's bass management rather than the soundtrack itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




    The menu included music and the ability to select episodes.

R4 vs R1

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

    I can find no evidence of this series being available anywhere else in the world.


    An excellent documentary series focusing on the fall of great empires.

    The video quality is acceptable but no more.

    The audio quality is good.

    The set has no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Sunday, September 04, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, 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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