January 5th, 2012

never there

Jerusalem: The Making of a Holy City; The Frozen Planet

First TV night of the new year - and starting on two new series (both in HD so we can clear off some space on the PVR!).

I gave J the book "Jerusalem: The Biography" by Simon Sebag Montefiore for Christmas, and we'd also recorded the linked TV series so thought watching it now would make a nice complement to J's reading. The first episode covers the period from the first evidence of settlement on the site (in the bronze age, around 3000BC) until the 7th Century AD. It was an interesting programme, despite sometimes feeling a little shallow (likely because this covered ~3700 years in an hour, J says the book is more in depth) it still told me things I didn't already know. It also felt pretty even handed in its treatment of the meaning the city has to the different religions for which it is holy. Also I was particularly impressed with the way the visuals fitted the things he was talking about - rather than the seemingly random "crowded modern street" scenes that appear to be the fashion for historical documentaries. Examples that particularly stood out to me were when he was talking about the city being sacked (by the Babylonians) the images were of men in uniforms moving through the streets of Jerusalem (actually police, I think), inter-cut with scenes of running children (actually just running coz they were kids, but it worked in the context). Also some very evocative empty (or nearly empty) streets and alleyways while he was talking about the exile of the Jews in Babylon & the expulsion of the Jews from the city after Titus put down their rebellion against the Romans.

Second programme of the evening was the first episode of Frozen Planet, a David Attenborough programme about wildlife at the poles. Full of breath-taking scenery, astonishing footage of the wildlife, just as you'd expect :) And full of "ooh, I didn't know that" moments, too - did you know there's a bare bit at the Antarctic? With no ice, and pretty much nothing else? I didn't before I watched the programme.