In Search of Myths and Heroes (2005)
|Category||Documentary||Main Menu Audio|
|Year Of Production||2005|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Jeremy Jeffs|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In Search of Myths and Heroes is a recent 4 part BBC documentary series. Presented by the man dubbed (15 years ago) as the "thinking woman's crumpet", Michael Wood, the series looks at some of the most distant and famous myths and tries (and often fails) to get at the historic source of the tale.
The series is, truth be told, part history and part travelogue as Wood is often forced to make long journeys to track down historic evidence behind the myths. To find the fabled city of Shangri-La he travels through India into the foothills of Tibet while the hunt for King Arthur sees him journeying through Britain and the hunt for the Queen of Sheba takes him though Africa and Egypt.
The series is mainly straight to camera monologues and interviews. There are no recreations which can so often enliven but also cheapen the documentary form. Instead, some key texts are read by actors whose nationality echoes the tale.
Experienced historian Wood is no stranger to the television documentary having made several successful films in the past including In Search of the Dark Ages, In Search of Troy, and Conquistadors.
Wood sets himself a huge task in presenting the series. How do you approach these tales from a historic perspective when thousands of years of inquiry have failed to find Shangri-La or the birthplace of Arthur? At the end all he can do is look at the possibilities on offer and try to join the dots to bring the legends alive.
The series is at its best when Wood makes some real discoveries such as during the Jason episode where he is able to find traces supporting the Argonauts story throughout Greece and the Mediterranean and explain some of the facts that may have gone on to become part of the legend. The series is at its weakest when Wood is hamstrung by a lack of material such as during the search for Shangri-La when a lack of any real evidence makes drawing any conclusion impossible and this makes the episode less successful overall.
Throughout though Wood is an enthusiastic and entertaining presenter.
All in all, the journey is worth the effort for anyone with an enquiring mind and a keen interest in the stories that lurk half seen in the mists of time.
The Episodes are:
Wood tries to pinpoint the location of the Shambala myth and his journey leads by plane, car and horse into the foothills of the mighty Tibetan mountains.
The trip carries Wood through Greece, Turkey and finally into Georgia and even provides a practical explanation for the Golden Fleece.
Each of the four episodes of In Search of Myths and Heroes is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which is likely to be consistent with the original aspect ratio. They are 16x9 enhanced.
The visual quality of each of the episodes is identical. The series was shot on digital video and displays the virtues and vices of the digital format. The image, particularly the night scenes, is often noisy and the show is at its visual best in the still images of the countryside.
Colour is quite lifelike and the picture is reasonably sharp.
There is aliasing throughout which is a minor distraction.
There are some truly beautiful images, particularly of the mountains in Nepal, however the fact that the quality of this footage is noticeably different from the remainder of the show suggests that all the best looking moments are drawn from stock footage.
There are subtitles for the hearing impaired which give a good account of on-screen action.
Despite these faults the series is quite watchable and I would suspect that the target audience for this series will have little to complain about where the visuals are concerned.
The sound for In Search of Myths and Heroes is English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kb/s).
This is quite appropriate for the series and it lacks nothing by not having a more expansive sound mix. The dialogue is clear and it is easy to hear, even when live miked in crowd scenes.
The performed excerpts from the texts are clearly enunciated.
There are no problems with audio sync.
The music by Howard Davidson is varied and interesting and provides an effective counterpoint to the action.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras.
The series is available in Region 1 and 2 apparently in identical format.
In Search of Myths and Heroes is another in the interesting historical examinations by Michael Wood. This time he is on shakier ground as the myths are really just that - myths, and trying to find some truth often leads to brick walls.
The sound and vision quality of the series is not peerless but is otherwise perfectly acceptable.
|DVD||Pioneer DVR 630H-S, using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TH-50PV60A 50' Plasma. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX - SR603|
|Speakers||Onkyo 6.1 Surround|