2 Disc DVDEMPI400 List Price: $49.99 Our Price: $44.99
Written and presented by Jeremy Paxman, this richly detailed documentary follows the rise of the British Empire. At its height, the small island nation ruled over a quarter of the world's population. Examining what is considered a dark stain on British history, Empire shows how greed and a lust for power marginalized numerous groups across the empire's vast expanse, while challenging viewers to see the empire's effect on the modern world.
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- Length: 303 minutes on 2 discs
- Country of Origin: United States
- Disc 1
Episode 1: A Taste for Power
In India, the British learn the art of imperialism, using local rulers and troops to maintain power. But it is little more than a confidence trick, an enormous bluff--and as the mutiny of 1857 shows, it's only a matter of time before that bluff is called. Suez becomes a vital link to the empire in the East, and in the years after World War I the British find themselves embroiled in the intractable problems of Palestine.
Episode 2: Making Ourselves at Home
While early British traders adopt local Indian customs, later arrivals impose Victorian values and try to mold the country into a version of England. In the cultural melting pot of Singapore, the British keep themselves separate, but in Canada they come as settlers, determined to make a home for themselves. To build Kenya's railways, the British import Indians, many of whom are later expelled by Kenyan nationalists.
Episode 3: Playing the Game
The empire gives rise to a peculiarly British type of hero--the gentleman adventurer whose values are honed on the sports fields of England's public schools, where how you play the game is more important than winning. For men like General Charles Gordon, this would mean a determination to hold out at all costs, as at the siege of Khartoum. In the end, the spirit of fair play and the interests of empire clash head on.
Episode 4: Making a Fortune
British privateers prey on Spanish wealth in the Caribbean, but theft is soon replaced by trade, including the slave trade of Africans to work the islands' sugar plantations. Trade brings great wealth to Britain--spices from India, gold from South Africa, rubber from Malaya--while in China it sparks the opium wars. Gandhi takes a different approach to imperialism and so-called free trade by boycotting Lancashire cloth.
Episode 5: Doing Good
The drive for conquest also becomes a mission to help the rest of mankind, especially in "the dark continent" of Africa, where David Livingstone sets out to save souls for Christ and the people from Arab and Portuguese slavers. Cecil Rhodes indulges a different vision for the continent, one based on white domination and rule. In Kenya, the Mau Mau launch a conflict that shatters the empire's claims to moral authority.