In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (1997)

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

Released 31-Aug-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Interviews-Cast-Michael Wood
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 234:22 (Case: 269)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Wallace
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Michael Wood
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $29.95 Music John Eacott


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Alexander The Great has been the subject of many books, television shows and Hollywood movies and he is known as the great conqueror of what was in his time 'the known world'. He spent most of his short life after reaching adulthood away from home on military campaigns during which he travelled 20,000 miles (not 2,000 as it says on the case) conquering empires, subjugating tribes, destroying kingdoms and seeing everything from Libya to India to what is now Uzbekistan.

    Rather than taking a normal documentary approach to the subject matter, Michael Wood, our intrepid host, takes a very hands-on approach, retracing the travels and campaigns of Alexander by land-based transport across the 20,000 miles that he covered. In some sections of the journey he even tries to re-enact the way Alexander's army was said to have done things such as wading around rocks with the tide coming in, or going over a high mountain pass with donkeys. This approach makes for a very informative and realistic understanding of the incredible journey which Alexander and his army undertook. The show is spread over two discs and consists of 4 episodes each of just less than an hour. The focus of the series is more on the journey/battles than Alexander personally although it does not shy away from discussing his personal strengths and weaknesses or his homosexuality. The series was made in 1997 and has previously been available on video.

    My only criticism of the series is that it is perhaps slightly too long and that some sequences seem to take longer than they need to. However, the information and detail included is fascinating, making this series a little bit like Michael Palin meets history (although without the humour). The four episodes are:

  1. Son of God - Starts with Alexander's birth in Macedonia, discusses his parents and his father's death, his ascension to the throne, his war on Persia, visiting Troy, his great victories over Darius and his travels through Lebanon, Palestine, what is now Israel, Egypt & Libya. Of course, our host treks through all these places as well.
  2. Lord of Asia - This episode covers Alexander's march into Persia proper, his final defeat of Darius at Galgemaleh and on into what is now Iran. Covers the death of Darius, the destruction of Persepolis and Alexander's arrival at the Caspian Sea. Michael Wood has trouble with getting into Iraq and needs to get help from the US Air Force.
  3. Across The Hindu Kush - Wood arrives in Afghanistan during the civil war with the Taliban. He is following Alexander's path as he chases Bessus (Darius' successor) across the Hindu Kush and then on into what is now Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan & Tajikistan. This episode covers some of Alexander's trials and tribulations such as some bad injuries, arguments with his officers and having his official historian killed. Wood also runs into a number of problems in this dangerous part of the world.
  4. To the Ends of the Earth - Covers Alexander's campaigns into Pakistan & India including some incredible battle victories against elephants. By this stage, after 8 years Alexander's army told him they had had enough and wanted to turn back. They turned south across Pakistan and made a fleet of boats to travel back, however Alexander decided to go by land through a great desert. Also covered is the death of his lover and Alexander's own death. Wood is starting to look pretty haggard by the end of this amazing journey.

    A fascinating documentary series full of excellent information, presented in a different more hands-on way.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is good.

    The feature is presented in a 1.29:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was quite clear and sharp throughout. I noticed one spot of low level noise at 26:00 in Episode 2. Shadow detail was decent but some scenes were a little murky. There was variable grain throughout with some footage quite grainy but most just showing light grain.

    The colour was quite good, however was a little dull and I noticed one spot of variation in colour at 10:54 in Episode 2.

    Artefacts included some regular but usually mild aliasing such as at 6:58, 25:40, 26:30 & 56:40 in Episode 1, some edge enhancement here and there and jagged edges.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read.

    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

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

    The score of this series by John Eacott is well suited to the subject and adds to the atmosphere.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu was quite simple including music, and the ability to select episodes, scenes and subtitles.

Disc 2

Interview with Michael Wood (35:47)

    An extensive and interesting interview with the host which finds him more personable and enthusiastic than he seemed during the show itself, although this can probably be put down to the physical exertion he undertook during the series. He discusses his fascination with Alexander, other cultures' views of Alexander, problems and politics they encountered along the way, the paradox of Alexander and the recent Hollywood film projects.

R4 vs R1

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

    This series is available in Region 1 without the interview with Michael Wood, which is worth having. Region 4 gets the nod.

Summary

    An interesting and differently presented historical documentary which could called Michael Palin meets history without the humour.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The set has one excellent half hour interview as its only extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, January 16, 2006
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)

Other Reviews
impulsegamer.com - Andrew B

Comments (Add) NONE