Watch Once Upon a Time... The Explorers

"The Explorers" take us to unknown lands and horizons. They will show us how we came to know our planet which a very few centuries ago, we must never forget, was just a terra incognita...

Indigenius
1 Season, 24 Episodes
December 11, 1996
7.6/10
Cast: Marie-Laure Beneston, Daniel Beretta, Roger Carel, Olivier Destrez
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Once Upon a Time... The Explorers Full Episode Guide

  • For thousands of years, mountains have inspired to man a sacred fear. Mount Olympus, home of the gods, favoured residence of trolls, demons and other yetis, these high places are an untamed world, ruled by their own laws which pay no tribut to man's vanity. But these crests which rise like a forboding menace are also a fantastic challenge, and it is this challenge which we shall illustrate here.

  • As the 20th century begins, we find that the oceans, continents, tropical rainforests and polar regions of the globe have all seen the arrival of man... And quite sensibly, our children ask Maestro : "We have been to the North, to the South, to the West and the East. So, what is left ? " And our old wise man looks up to the skies.

  • In all times, the poles have drawn men to them. Axis of the Earth, magnetic indicators, they remain protected from human intrusion by their coat of ice. Towards the end of the 18th century, James Cook approaches both poles without touching land. In the 19th, several scientific expeditions attempt reaching the North Pole, more accurately charted and attainable than it's Antarctic counterpart.

  • As the 19th century dawns, central Africa remains an unknown "white zone" for cartographers. Only the commercial trading posts of the West coast where slaves, gold and ivory are sold, are familiar to Europeans. But Europe, in the midst of its industrial revolution, is keen on finding out about the wealth of Africa, its raw materials, its navigable waterways...

  • Ninety years after Cook's arrival at Botany Bay, the inside of Australia remains unknown, as much to the English government as to the early settlers. From the foundation, in 1787, of Sydney's penetenciary colony, right up to the development of several coastal towns in the first years of the 19th century (Bathurst, Albany, Cranberra, Brisbane, Adelaïde, Melbourne, Darwin...).

  • he story of Lewis and Clark is something of a "western" before its time ! It is due to their endeavours that the huge and beautiful western territories were opened up, to become the future scene of so many heroic adventures.

  • Scientist and philosopher, humanist, founding father of ethnology and anthropology: impossible to describe in one sentence the vast palette of talents which belonged to Alexander von Humboldt, one of the most brilliant figures of enlightenment!

  • In 1764, the Frenchman Bougainville, searching for the fabled "terra australis incognita", stumbles upon Tahiti, but fails to find the elusive southern continent that all maritime explorers are so eager to discover.

  • Exploring the Pacific, the greatest of all oceans, is no small affair, and it took many years and intrepid navigators before each of its numerous islands was charted out.

  • The life of an explorer is never an easy one, but few have had a terrain of action as hostile as that which brought fame to Vitus Bering: the vast expanses of the Siberian North and the frozen seas surrounding it.

  • The year is 1528 and America is as of yet an unexplored continent. Five caravels appear off the cost of Florida, from which 600 men disembark under the orders of the conquistador Panfilo de Navaez. It is the golden age of the conquistadors, who persue their dreams of Eldorado at the expense of the Indian tribes they encounter.

  • In 1518, Captain Fernando de Magellan and his friend the astronomer Rui Faliero are at the court of the king of Spain to present young Charles the Fifth with an astonishing project. The aim is to join the spice islands by heading due west and crossing the Atlantic, whereas since Vasco de Gama's trip in 1488, the Portugese sail to India via Africa, therefore heading south.

  • The end of the Hundred Years war, in 1453, announces for christian Europe a time of expansion and innovation. Spain unites around Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille to achieve the "Reconquista". A vast empire comprising Germany, Burgundy, the Netherlands and Spain is slowly building itself up.

  • We are at the end of the XVth century. Spain and Portugal both seek the maritime path to India and the fabled spice islands. Nutmeg, pepper, clover: these are products worth their weight in gold ! When King Juan II of Portugal gives Vasco de Gama commandment of four ships to reach India by circum- navigating Africa, he knows that this young captain has the talent to succeed.

  • At the end of the 13th century, the Venitian traveller Marco Polo was amazed to see, in China, huge 5-masted junks with sails of red silk and crews of 300 men. But these vessels that so impressed him were merely the forerunners of what was to become, in less than two centuries, the most astonishing of fleets ever to sail the seas.

  • 1325 - Ibn Battuta, a young Maroccan, leaves his home town Tanger to go, as all good Muslim should, on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Little does he know that he is embarking on an extraordinary odyssey, perhaps the greatest journey of all times.

  • Was Genghis Khan really a barbarian risen out of the Asian steppe to bring terror and death onto Christendom, the direct successor of Attila the "wrath of God"? Europe certainly lived in holy fear of the mongol horsemen, for these nomads were the antithesis and the enemies of the "civilized" farming societies that populated the fertile plains of the West at that time.

  • The discovery of America is usually associated to one date and one name: 1492 and Christopher Columbus. This ignores the fact that 500 years before the Spanish navigators touched land with their caravels, a handful of hardy Scandinavian sailors crossed the same ocean in their streamlined knorrs.

  • 400 b.c. ...Greece lives in the shadow of the mighty Persian empire. It is in the small kingdom of Macedonia that Alexander grows up. Son of the king, he is taught the art of war and commandment at an early age. He also learns from the philosopher Aristotle the precepts of wisdom, although his teacher endlessly warns him against his fiery nature.

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