Watch Civilisation

  • TV-G
  • 1969
  • 1 Season
  • 8.7  (1,056)

Civilisation is a documentary series produced by BBC in 1969-1970 and now streaming on BritBox. This series is hosted by Sir Kenneth Clark, who is a renowned art historian and director of the National Gallery in London. He narrates the 13-episode series that explores the history of Western civilization from the Dark Ages to the present day.

Throughout the series, Sir Kenneth Clark takes viewers on a journey through history, art, architecture, and philosophy in each episode. The series is well-paced and provides a comprehensive overview of civilization's significant achievements, including the founding of democracy, the birth of religious art, the creation of the Gothic cathedral, the Renaissance, the scientific revolution, and the industrial era.

The first episode titled "The Skin of Our Teeth" discusses the Dark Ages and how society managed to persevere through the cultural and social upheaval during the time. Clark shows viewers the historical sites of Europe such as Byzantium, Ravenna, and Rome as he makes his way to the Art Gallery of Florence.

The second episode, "The Great Thaw," traces the emergence of 12th-century Europe from the Dark Ages. Clark explores the birth of new cities and the first Gothic cathedral, Chartres Cathedral. He gives a brief history of the rise of specialized trades and the economy. Clark explores the medieval mindset filled with religious piety and the sense of cosmic order that gave meaning to people’s lives.

The third episode, "Romance and Reality," explores how the artists of the Renaissance brought a new sense of realism to the world. Clark takes us to Florence and examines the works of Giotto, Masaccio, Donatello, and Botticelli before moving on to Rome to showcase the work of Michelangelo.

The next episode, "Man – the Measure of all Things," takes the viewer on a journey through the artists' representation of human anatomy, and Clark showcases works of Leonardo da Vinci becoming an anatomist. He also highlights the works of Raphael, Titian, and Rubens during this time.

In the episode "Protest and Communication," Clark explores the era of the Reformation and the Catholic response as well as the Baroque era. Clark shows viewers the works of Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Dyck.

The seventh episode, "Grandeur and Obedience," is about the culture of absolute monarchy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Clark shows us the works of Peter Paul Rubens and the creations of Versailles Palace.

In the episode "The Light of Experience," Clark explores the development of Enlightenment, the rise of democracy, and the ideals of individual liberty. He takes us to the heart of the British Renaissance period and showcases the work of Hogarth and Reynolds.

The next chapter, "The Pursuit of Happiness," provides an insight into human sentimentality and the Romantic Era in the art world. The display showcases works of Goya, Blake, and Turner.

Clark explores Gothic revival in the episode "The Smile of Reason." He argues that European modernity is incomprehensible without religious images interpreted as works of art. This episode also shows art produced during the 19th century.

In the episode "The Worship of Nature," Clark showcases idealized landscaped gardens of Capability Brown and the explosive growth of the cities during the industrial revolution.

The eleventh episode, "The Fallacies of Hope," is about the significance of the French Revolution over European society. Clark portrays the works of Gericault as he explores the evolution of art.

Clark concludes the series with "Heroic Materialism," which explores the ideas of Marx and Darwin and how it influenced art and architecture. Clark argues that the new society produced by these ideas was a rejection of previous ideals.

Throughout the documentary, Sir Kenneth Clark visits various historical sites, museums, and art galleries to illustrate the points he makes. Clark’s enthusiasm and knowledge combine to create an engaging and enlightening documentary series that raises important questions about society and individuals in Western Civilization.

In summary, Civilisation is a must-watch documentary series for history buffs, art enthusiasts, and anyone interested in the development of the Western world. The show is informative, engaging, and educational, presented by a talented host and accompanied by stunning examples of art and culture.

Civilisation is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (13 episodes). The series first aired on February 23, 1969.

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Heroic Materialism
13. Heroic Materialism
April 20, 1969
Kenneth Clark reflects on the nature of the 18th-century music, and on the way that some of its qualities are reflected in the best of rococo architecture.
The Fallacies of Hope
12. The Fallacies of Hope
April 13, 1969
Sir Kenneth Clark's story takes him from the Holland of Rembrandt and Vermeer to the London of Wren, Purcell and the Royal Society.
The Worship of Nature
11. The Worship of Nature
April 6, 1969
Sir Kenneth Clark visits Rome in search of grandeur and finds a city that gave rise to Michelangelo, Bernini and the Counter Reformation.
The Smile of Reason
10. The Smile of Reason
March 30, 1969
Kenneth Clark investigates the Protestant Reformation in northern Europe, and looks at Holbein, Thomas Moore, Erasmus and the printing press and Durer.
The Pursuit of Happiness
9. The Pursuit of Happiness
March 23, 1969
Kenneth Clark continues his personal reflections on civilisation with a look at individuals of genius, notably Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.
The Light of Experience
8. The Light of Experience
March 16, 1969
Kenneth Clark continues his personal reflections on civilisation with a look at Renaissance man.
Grandeur and Obedience
7. Grandeur and Obedience
March 9, 1969
Kenneth Clark journeys from the Loire through Tuscany and Umbria, to Pisa, as he explores the aspirations of the later Middle Ages in France and Italy.
Protest and Communication
6. Protest and Communication
March 2, 1969
Kenneth Clark presents the landmark arts documentary series first shown in 1969. This programme traces the reawakening of European civilisation in the twelfth century.
The Hero as Artist
5. The Hero as Artist
May 18, 1969
Kenneth Clark considers heroic materialism and humanitarianism in the past 100 years.
Man - The Measure of all Things
4. Man - The Measure of all Things
May 11, 1969
Sir Kenneth Clark traces the progressive disillusionment of the artists of the Romantic movement during the 19th century.
Romance and Reality
3. Romance and Reality
May 4, 1969
Sir Kenneth Clark examines a new force - the belief in the divinity of nature.
The Great Thaw
2. The Great Thaw
April 27, 1969
Kenneth Clark looks at the beginnings of revolutionary politics in the 18th century.
The Skin of Our Teeth
1. The Skin of Our Teeth
February 23, 1969
Landmark arts documentary series from 1969. Kenneth Clark Kenneth Clark looks at the re-establishment of civilisation in Western Europe after the fall of Rome.
Where to Watch Civilisation
Civilisation is available for streaming on the BritBox website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Civilisation on demand at Amazon Prime.
  • Premiere Date
    February 23, 1969
  • IMDB Rating
    8.7  (1,056)