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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Empires-Peter & Paul and the Christian Revolution (Madman Ent) (2003)

Empires-Peter & Paul and the Christian Revolution (Madman Ent) (2003)

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Released 24-Jun-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Trailer-The Empires Series
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 110:37
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Douglas Cheek
Michael Chin
Margaret Koval

Madman Entertainment
Starring Margaret Koval
Salome Jens
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Dana Kaproff

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 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

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Empires Series of documentaries are a collection of ten documentaries that were produced by Devillier Donegan Enterprises and the American public television broadcaster, PBS. These were shown on American television in 2003. In Australia they first aired on SBS in 2004 and were released onto DVD by Roadshow. In May and June, 2009 SBS films and Australian distributor, Madman Entertainment have reissued all ten documentaries for fans of the series who first viewed them on SBS television in Australia but did not purchase the 2004 releases which have now gone out of print. The quality of these documentaries, in terms of production, is very good, with some well-known narrators employed such as Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver, Donald Sutherland and Richard Chamberlain.

    The full list of documentaries (in alphabetical order) is listed below:

    1) Empires: Egypt

    2) Empires: Japan - Memoirs of a Secret Empire

    3) Empires: Kingdom of David - The Saga of the Israelites

    4) Empires: Martin Luther

    5) Empires: Napoleon

    6) Empires: Peter & Paul and the Christian Revolution

    7) Empires: Queen Victoria's Empire

    8) Empires: The Greeks - Crucible of Civilisation

    9) Empires: The Medici - Godfathers of the Renaissance

    10) Empires: The Roman Empire in the First Century

    Empires-Peter & Paul and the Christian Revolution looks at the development of Christianity through the missionary work of the Apostles Peter and Paul in Asia and Europe in the 1st century AD. The PBS website gives the following introduction to the series:

    Two millennia ago, in the Roman province of Judea, Jesus was crucified by imperial troops. Thousands before him had suffered the same fate. But unlike his predecessors on the cross, Jesus did not drop from history. Instead, his memory was kept alive by a small band of Jews -- men and women who held fast to their conviction that Jesus was the Messiah… that Jesus had been anointed by God to announce His kingdom on earth. Against the odds, in the face of hostility, indifference, and dissent, these impoverished subjects of Rome managed to carry the news of Jesus out of Judea and around the Roman Empire. They managed to plant a movement that would one day conquer Rome itself. There were Barnabas and Priscilla; James, Stephen, Titus. And most famously of all, there were Peter and Paul. If one was "The Rock" upon which the church was founded, the other was a river, flooding its banks to reach all regions and peoples. Combining the actual words of Paul, Luke, and other ancient writers with period dramatizations and location footage from around the Mediterranean, Peter and Paul and the Christian Revolution is the story of a revolution that changed the world.

    The two episodes on the DVD are summarised as follows:

    Episode I: The Rock and the River (55:20)

    With their Messiah executed, their dreams crushed, and their cause deemed subversive by the strongest empire the world had ever seen, Jesus's followers faced a bleak future. Their movement seemed destined for extinction. Incredibly, though, Jesus's survivors turned defeat to victory; devastation to jubilation. By one account, it happened on the shores of the Sea of Galilee where Simon Peter and others envisioned the risen Jesus. It was an explosive moment of hope. For the sighting convinced them that Jesus had not, in fact, been beaten; that in his death, Jesus was ushering in God's Kingdom on Earth. Re-infused with hope and determination, Peter became an indomitable figure who would unite his group into a tight community of ardent believers. Dark days were coming, however -- days of persecution, imprisonment and dispersal. And when they arrived, Peter found support from an unexpected source. His name was Paul. A fervent Jew and a former persecutor of the Jesus community in Jerusalem, Paul had a startling revelation that led him to embrace Peter's faith as his own. It was a turning point in history. For once inspired, Paul turned his formidable talents to the task of spreading his new cause around the Roman Empire. Paul was educated, passionate and determined. But he was also dogmatic. And soon, he would be at the center of the most divisive conflict yet to face the young Jesus movement.

    Episode II: The Empire and the Kingdom (55:19)

    Spread outside Judea by missionaries like Peter and Paul, the Jesus movement caught on quickly among Jews and non-Jews around the Roman Empire. With success, however, came challenges: challenges from hostile locals; challenges from imperial forces; and challenges from conflicting ideas within the movement itself. Should Gentile converts become Jews? Should they be circumcised? These were hot-button issues in the first century and they threatened to tear the young movement apart. Paul -- adamant that there was no time for conversions -- fell into open and angry confrontation with some of the oldest Jesus followers. Peter, it seems, tried to mediate the conflict. "The Rock" became a stepping stone between the camps and, for a crucial period, helped keep the movement together. But the center could not hold. Paul struck out on his own, planting churches in his image around the Mediterranean and writing letters that would become central to all later Christian theology. Finally, in 70 AD, disaster struck the headquarters of the Jesus followers. After decades of rising tension, Judea erupted in revolt against Rome. War had been raging for four years. And when Rome finally established control, it destroyed much of Jerusalem; it torched the sacred Temple and enslaved the population. The scorched ground of Judea could no longer nurture a Jewish Jesus movement. And in the end, it was Paul's communities that would grow and change into the churches we know today.

    Sean Abberton has provided an excellent review of the 2004 Roadshow release on this site here, and this re-release by Madman is quintessentially the same in regards to the video and audio transfer, extras and lack of a sufficient number of chapter stops. The only thing that has been improved upon is the RSDL change which has been now placed between the two episodes on the disc.

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Transfer Quality


    The video transfer is identical to the 2004 Roadshow release. Overall it is a good transfer, but is not 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

    The aspect ratio of the presentation is 1:75:1

    There is slight grain throughout due to the fact that the transfer is not 16x9 enhanced. Low level noise is limited to a few night scenes. There are a lot of scenes containing slow-motion effects to heighten the drama of the narrative.

    Colour is standard for a documentary of this style.

    There are no minor film artefacts present in the two episodes.

    Subtitles are clear and easy to read, but not if you zoom the picture to fill your widescreen television.

    The RSDL change is conveniently placed between the two episodes.

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


    The quality of the audio transfer is also quite good.

    There is one audio soundtrack in English Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 224 kbps.

    There is no dialogue during re-enactments, but expert interviewees are easy to understand. Salome Jens, the narrator, speaks effortlessly and is also easy to understand.

    Music is used to add the right atmosphere to the re-enactments, it is not overused.

    Surround channel usage is minimal.

    The Subwoofer is not really utilised in this transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



The only extra on the DVD is a text-based preview to the other documentaries in the Empires Series.

R4 vs R1

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

    The previous Region 4 release and the Region 1 release of Empires-Peter & Paul and the Christian Revolution are identical to this release by Madman Entertainment and SBS Films.


    The two episodes look at the historical record rather than focusing on theological arguments. This documentary seeks to re-enact the Apostles Paul's and Peter's missionary journeys in the 1st century AD based on the Book of Acts written by Luke. Expert interviewees provide speculative insight into the decision-making of both Apostles when the account by Luke is silent (I personally don't think they are always correct, however, these experts do offer a variety of opinions on the recount of events). Reference is made to other historians of the 1st century such as Josephus. The series was shot in Morocco, Italy and Greece, so it captures a realistic look into what life would have been like at the time.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 019), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

Other Reviews NONE