Civilization Proves History Documentaries Used to Be Way Better

Television documentaries have become overproduced messes that focus too much on glitz and personality, and not enough on facts. Send me back to the time when series like BBC's Civilization graced the TV screen. It's all about the history, and its minimal style is utterly captivating.

Civilization is a 13-part series that aired in 1969 and featured all-too-British historian Kenneth Clark ruminating about the history of Western civilization, with a focus on architecture and art. The entirety of the series is composed of Clark narrating the events of centuries past against sweeping views of ancient ruins and works of art. The camerawork and music are impeccable, drawing you in in the most hypnotic way.

Old-school programming like Civilization will undoubtedly strike many modern audiences as boring-as-all-hell. Call me crazy, but I much prefer its stoic beauty to the hodge-podge of low-budget 3D renderings, stock footage, and inane reenactments that form most of today's non-fiction TV.


The history on display in Civilization is absolutely Euro-centric, so don't count on it for a complete survey of our global past. But it's definitely awe-inspiring nonetheless. Stream the entire series on YouTube, or plunk down some cash for the Blu-Ray version, fire up that 80-inch TV, and light somethin' up for a good old fashioned binge-watch.


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