Watch Once Upon a Time: Man

Once upon a time ... the history of man from his earliest origins to our own times! Facing the problems of everyday existence in their time. Past the caves of the Neanderthal, the pyramids of the Pharaohs, the Vikings and the ancient Greeks and Romans.

1 Season, 26 Episodes
December 31, 1977
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Once Upon a Time: Man Full Episode Guide

  • We arrived in the modern times. Today, humankind is seeking for a way out of a fatal blind alley, where progress got stuck and stinks up to the sky together with the industrialization and mass consumption. But even now, we have great moments: The first person in space - Juri Gagarin. As the first human being, Alexeij Leonow leaves a spaceship and moves freely in space.

  • The first transatlantic flight from the west to the east succeeds in 1919 by Alcop and Arthur Wittenbrown. In January 1926, the Lufthansa is founded by means of the consolidation of Junkers Luftverkehr and Deutscher Aero Lloyd. The first world championship in aerobatic flights occurs in Paris in 1934. Adrienne Bolland is the first woman to overfly the canal and in 1921.

  • At first, Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo marks the superiority of the British. Already 40 years ago, the first modern factory was built in England, and progress is growing. The time of inventions had started. The steam engine is being developed, which uses air pressure as a source of energy. Industrialization is in full swing.

  • The night before the French Revolution in 1789, the Estates-General come together in Versailles. Freedom is the first big issue. Mainly, the deputies want to end serfdom. The French Revolution starts with the storming of the bastille. Finally, France is becoming a republic.

  • In a small harbor in the South of England, the "Mayflower" is berthed. With this ship, the first puritan settlers of New England want to go to America. 41 men with their families travel across the Atlantic Ocean. After some difficulties in the beginning, they soon get used to their new environment. The peace with the Native Americans is gone though. Also, there's the War of Independence...

  • The century of the enlightenment... The basic idea is that the true character of human beings is defined by reason and rational thinking. Reason contains the valid measure of value for all human creation, activity and living conditions. The reaction of the state and the church on this movement is violent.

  • In 1689, 17-year-old Tsar Peter finds his celebratory way into the court, 600 km southwest of Moscow. He confuses the grandeur of the Kremlin with the fringe area, and he prefers the cheerful life with his friends to the etiquette at the court. Russia is quite a backward country. There's a lot of analphabets, the nobility is conceited and the judiciary is corrupt.

  • 1680: Paris has 450 000 inhabitants. The state prison, the Bastille, is situated in the East. In the West, there's the Louvre, which is the king's palace. Louis XVI has other plans though... The construction of the Palace of Versailles has been in progress for 18 years, but still there were some things missing. The interior decoration and parks need a lot of time and quality.

  • In 1533, all of the 17 provinces of the Netherlands are part of the empire of Charles V. Because of their vitality and their pecuniosity, they are counted to his most precious belongings. In 1555 his son, Philipp II., inherits everything and administrates it from Spain. However, there are riots in the provinces.

  • In the middle of the 16th century, queen Mary, daughter of Henry VIII., marries the crown prince of Spain, Philipp II. "Bloody Mary", as is called, tries to bring back Catholicism to England. Her attempts of conversion consume quite an amount of wood though, since around 300 Protestants are forced to lose their lives on the stake. After Mary's death, Elizabeth I. mounts the throne.

  • The Moorish rule comes to an end in 15th century Spain, when the last Islamic bastion Granada falls in 1492. This flourishing city has some 400 000 inhabitants, 70 libraries and more than 50 schools. Its wall carries 1030 defense towers. After 500 years of war, the Spanish have become fanatic and intolerant. The Jews are being expelled and 400 000 Moors must leave the land as well.

  • Fourteenth century Florence, during the time of Lorenzo de Medici, is a focal point. In the city's bustling streets where commerce flourishes, Peter Junior is returning from some errand on which his father, a draper, has sent him. The boy saunters along then stops when his curiosity is engaged by the workshop of Master Verrocchio: young artists with names like da Vinci, Boticelli, and le Perrugin.

  • If the thirteenth century saw the flourishing of the cathedrals, the fourteenth saw the blossoming of the universities. Leaving Rome with its rivalry between the Orsinis and the Colonnas, the Pope establishes himself in Avignon. Agriculture has made progress. The population has grown - too quickly perhaps, because famine strikes now.

  • 1271. The opulence of Venice fades. Far-off horizons are opening up to the Polo brothers, who were rich merchants of the prosperous city. Also on board of the ship with them is Marco, aged 17, the son of one of the brothers. Two priests accompany them as well. Among the crew we quickly recognize Young Peter and Young Jumbo, barely 15 years old, with whom Marco soon strikes up a friendship.

  • Charlemagne's empire has collapsed. The feudal system - which is very harsh on the people - has taken over. The law of "might is right" prevails. A fire has destroyed the watch tower of Baron Pest's castle. Maestro, an expert builder from the big city, proposes that the old, wooden tower should now be replaced by a solid donjon with thick walls. The new tower rises.

  • The first of the Viking raids on the coast of Europe took place at the end of the VIII century. But first let us take a look at these ferocious warriors, who were indomitable navigators, on their home ground. 790 AC: A Viking village in the north with its typical houses. Food is scarce, and the men are preparing a whale hunt.

  • While the Roman Empire dozes peacefully under the Pax Romana, we see how processions of invaders are spreading throughout the land. Later, in a great cloud of dust we see a horde gallop by: the Huns of Attila. We see a peaceful settlement whose inhabitants - which include our friends - are going about their daily chores; their children are at play. Suddenly, the bell tower sounds the alarm.

  • While the Roman Empire declines, the Emperor Constantine has converted to Catholicism and founds the city of Constantinople. Justinian, who succeeds him, continues the policy of grandeur and of reconquest, and at the same time the war with Persia begins. After all the opulence and splendor, there finally remains only an exhausted population, the 'Cathedral of Saint Sophie' and the Justinian Code.

  • 52 BC: Julius Caesar awaits the surrender of Vercingetorix, the chief of the Gauls, whom he has just defeated. On their way back to Rome with their prisoners, among whom are our friends, the legions appropriate whatever they find: a lamb, a cow, pottery or a string of onions. Caesar heads the convoy, and on the homeward journey, he dictates to his secretaries his impressions of the journey.

  • The streets of Knossos in 500 BC: the inhabitants are elegant and cheerful, the houses modern, it's civilization advanced. No bloodthirsty gods, no powerful army. Only the joy, the pleasure of living... It wouldn't last though. The Achaeans, jealous of its civilization, come to invade Crete. It remains for the barbarians to surpass their masters.

  • In Mesopotamia, kingdoms rise and fall until the coming of Hamurabi, who imposes his system of law and order - of which we are given a few illustrations. It is a time of mass migrations. Under the successive waves of invaders the Assyrians grow warlike. We see them about to turn Nineva into the capital of terror. The Medes and Babylonians join forces against this bloodthirsty beast.

  • The inhabitants of a peaceful neolithic villlage have just discovered how to cultivate the soil. But the harvested grain is coveted by pillagers, and the villagers are obliged to protect themselves by erecting stockades. While our little settlement goes about its humdrum daily routine, the Middle East has already become the seat of highly evolved civilizations.

  • A group of Cro-Magnon is migrating. Are these people descendants of the Neanderthal men, or their cousins, invaders or their conquerors? Among them we find the prototypes of our heroes: Peter - solidly built, Jumbo - indestructible, Pest - forever dissatisfied, Pierrette - charming and pretty, Maestro - the wise man with the long, white beard.

  • Peter, a robust Pithecanthropus male, marches along and, as we move on in the time bar, his morphology changes and passes through all the stages which take him from Homo-Erectus to Homo-Sapiens. He is now the Neanderthal type. Following him, we see a migrating group which includes some twenty individuals: men, women and children.

  • It is five thousand million years ago. We approach the globe of the earth through thick clouds. Volcanic eruptions, rivers of lava, lightning, earthquakes and diluvial rains make up an apocalyptic outlook. Then the scene becomes more peaceful. Sunrays shine through the fog and gently touch the surface of the water. We follow this ray, shining through the water. Everything is quiet.

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