Normans, The: A Dynasty that Shaped the World (2004)

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Released 11-Apr-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 151:26 (Case: 150)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (24:39) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor
SBS
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 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

    The Normans are probably best known, certainly in Australia, for their conquest of Britain in 1066, led by William the Conqueror. The next most well known Normans are probably the men responsible for the end of the Norman dynasty, Richard the Lionheart and his brother John, who lost their lands throughout France which meant that most Normans then either became English or French, losing their direct control of Normandy. This series, by focusing on the Normans as a group of people rather than just as the conquerors of Britain, gives a broader perspective on their history and conquests in other parts of the world, such as Southern Italy. The series has an excellent term which it uses to describe the Normans; 'Appalling Christians but great churchmen'. Basically, the Normans were famous for two things - conquest and benefaction of the church - and their conquests were nearly always bloody and ruthless. They used their money to build cathedrals and other churches in order to ensure that the political influence of the church was on their side.

    This series is presented in three episodes and was screened on SBS here in Australia. It is a French, Welsh, English and Australian co-production which was made in 2004. Style-wise, the series does not have a presenter, but rather a narrator who talks through the history while somewhat related images play onscreen. The series is not overly interesting visually, with a lot of shots of castles and cathedrals plus some battle recreations (some of which substitute for multiple battles). Despite this, the information presented is quite fascinating including much detail of which I was not aware about the history of the Normans, especially the second episode.

    The three episodes are:

  1. The Invaders (51:03) - This episode focuses on the creation of Normandy when Rollo, a Scandinavian, was granted control of what is known as Normandy in 911 after the break-up of Charlemagne's empire and on the Norman conquest of Britain in 1066. Also covered is the approach taken by the Normans to controlling England and subduing Scotland.
  2. The Kingdom in the Sun (49:47) - This episode was the most interesting of the series because it focuses on a part of Norman history of which I was not aware, their conquest of Southern Italy & Sicily led by Robert Giscard. They created the kingdom of Sicily and ruled it until it was taken over by the Holy Roman Empire.
  3. Loss of Identity (50:36) - This episode covers the long slow decline of the Norman empire including the civil war between Matilda and Stephen, war with France, Richard the Lionheart and John. The Magna Carta followed by the death of John spelt the end of their dynasty.

    This is an interesting series which covers the Normans in a broader way than I have seen previously.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is good but has some issues.

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

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was fine without being spectacular. There was light grain throughout and some sections were heavier.

    The colour was quite good however there was some chroma noise to be seen, such as at 15:50 in Episode 1.

    Artefacts included some mild aliasing and jagged edges, quite a bit of shimmering especially on panning, some occasional macro-blocking (eg 15:29 ep 1), some edge enhancement and one spot of moire at 40:20 in episode 1.

    There are subtitles in SBS yellow, burned in for foreign language interview subjects but not otherwise.

    The layer change occurs at 24:39 in episode 2 and caused a noticeable pause.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is very good.

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

    The narrator was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync when someone was being interviewed.

    The music used was very suitable to the material including Gregorian chants and some Italian stringed instruments.

    The surround speakers added some mild atmosphere when played with Dolby ProLogicII.

    The subwoofer added some bass to the music due to my amp's bass management.

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

Extras

    None.

Menu

    The menu was very simple allowing for choosing episodes or playing all at once.

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 only currently available in Region 4 on DVD.

Summary

    An interesting series about the history of the Normans.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    Extras? Non!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, January 20, 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)

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