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The Great Heroes - Alexander The Great

The Great Heroes - Alexander The Great Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

This first episode examines the legend and legacy of Macedonian King, unrivalled military genius and conqueror of the ancient world Alexander the Great (356-323 BC).

The passion, brilliance and excess with which Alexander lived reflected his hard warrior upbringing; and education at the hands of Aristotle; and his firm conviction, encouraged by his strong-willed mother, that he was born of the gods.

After forging friendships for life at a young age – most importantly with the boy who would become his second-in-command and future love; and after the death of his father, Alexander seized the throne, killing all who stood in the way of his regal birth-right, including his baby step-brother.

He then intimidated the Greek world into submission by destroying Thebes – “an act of deliberate terror,” according to Professor Brian Bosworth, and set about satisfying his lust for power and thirst for knowledge by conquering the 200-year-old enemy of Persia.

He savagely repressed all opposition, yet often showed generosity to those who acknowledged his authority, and was welcomed as a liberator in Egypt. But despite believing in his own invincibility and divinity, he was unable to convince his loyal and battle-worn armies to follow him beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan into India.

The death of his lover and friend prompted a drinking binge which killed him at the age of 33.

 

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The Great Heroes - Abraham Lincoln

The Great Heroes - Abraham Lincoln Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

The final documentary in this series of historical profiles looks at America’s greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, whose political crusade was to lead to the abolition of slavery in the US.

Tall, gangly and from a poor Kentucky farming background, Lincoln was in some ways an unlikely candidate for president. But the ambition, ferocious intellect and common touch of this self-educated visionary secured his rise to prominence.

The agricultural life was anathema to Lincoln, who turned his back on farming to embrace new experiences in the post-industrial revolution era; he moved to the city, qualified as a lawyer and developed a passion for politics, and for the notion of fairness.

Dogged by recurring depression following the death of his first wife, Lincoln nevertheless pursued his new life enthusiastically and successfully. A charismatic speaker, he became a congressman, and, eventually, in 1860, was elected president.

But his well-known hatred of slavery panicked the ‘slave states’ into withdrawing from the Union and forming the Confederacy. Five years of bloody conflict followed, in which Union general Ulysses S Grant ultimately led the north to victory.

Tragically, Lincoln was assassinated after the war by bitter confederate sympathiser and actor John Wilkes Booth, but, by then, he had already shaped the commitment to human freedom which would define the nation’s vision for the 20th century

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The Great Heroes - George Washington

The Great Heroes - George Washington Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

This programme profiles the reluctant revolutionary who defeated a superpower and founded the most powerful nation in the world. George Washington was a conservative landowner who helped transform a bunch of quarrelsome states into a cohesive nation – and drafted the American Constitution.

Washington was born, in 1732, into a family of wealthy Virginia plantation owners, at a time when America was a British colony. After receiving a good education at home, he became a successful surveyor, mapping the uncharted ‘Wild West’, before being enlisted into the Virginia militia at 21.

The young Washington showed his bravery and strategic brilliance as he led several successful British expeditions against French invaders. However, despite his growing reputation, this ambitious young man returned to his estate in protest at being denied a commission by the British.

Washington then married Martha and spent some time as a successful farmer. However, his prosperous Virginia gentleman’s existence was interrupted by the call of duty when heavy British taxation inspired the colonists to unite and revolt.

Washington’s troops began the eight-year War of Independence as a ragtag bunch of conscripts, but ultimately triumphed. Having already supervised the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, Washington was reluctantly appointed President for two four-year terms. By the time he died, aged 67, in 1799, he had helped found a great nation, and provided the constitutional framework that still governs the US to this day.

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The Great Heroes - Hannibal Barca

The Great Heroes - Hannibal Barca Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

The second programme in this new history series examines the military genius of risk-taking Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca (247 – 182BC).

The ancient city state of Carthage (modern-day Tunisia) dominated north Africa and the Mediterranean for 600 years, during which time the first Punic Wars were waged against the Romans – a bitter and bloody 100-year campaign. The son of a general, Hannibal was raised in the midst of this turmoil, and soon learnt to embrace his nation’s loathing of Italy.

He led the Carthaginian armies during the second Punic Wars and began his phenomenally successful 16-year campaign in enemy territory by capturing the Spanish city of Sangunto – a strong ally of Rome.

Then followed the legendary trek across the Alps, in which Hannibal exploited the Roman’s complacency to lead 40,000 mercenaries and 37 elephants in a daring 15 day winter crossing of the colossal range. Thousands of men died, but such was Hannibal’s charisma, presence and strength that his loyal troops would follow him anywhere.

Despite the Romans’ best efforts, an outnumbered Hannibal outsmarted his enemy in battle numerous times, before finally losing to a worthy adversary in Roman general Scipio at Zama in 202 BC. Though his highly successful battle strategies are still studied the world over, Hannibal was eventually cornered by his lifelong enemy at the age of 65. He committed suicide rather than face the humiliation of capture.

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The Great Heroes - Julius Caesar

The Great Heroes - Julius Caesar Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

This episode examines the career of Julius Caesar, the most famous Roman leader of all. He conquered more land than any other Roman; turned a Republic into an Empire; and had a celebrated love affair with the Egyptian empress Cleopatra – but was unable to prevent his own assassination.

Born into a prominent family, Julius Caesar prepared himself for power at an early age. He fled Rome to escape the attentions of the dictator Sullus, but turned this to his advantage: a successful military campaign in Asia Minor gave him the reputation as a great soldier that every Roman politician needed.

The vastly ambitious Caesar borrowed huge sums to bribe himself into the plum job of High Priest, before being appointed Governor of Spain. Next, a nine-year campaign saw his troops conquer Gaul (now modern France), the greatest military achievement of any Roman leader. With his reputation secure, he returned to a strife-filled Rome determined to seize power.

After defeating his old colleague Pompey, Caesar turned his attentions to rival power Egypt – where a diplomatic visit took an unexpected turn, as he met and fell in love with its all-powerful leader Cleopatra. He fathered her child, and even took her back to Rome with him.

But Caesar’s overwhelming ambition was his undoing. After being elected dictator-for-life, and amassing vast powers, he was stabbed to death by conspirators in the Senate. Like most Roman leaders, Caesar’s life was ended in its prime, but, as he put it, “I have lived long enough…in years and glory.”

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The Great Heroes - Horatio Nelson

The Great Heroes - Horatio Nelson Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

The subject of this episode is Horatio Nelson, whose naval career began at the age of 12 and ended with one of the greatest military victories in history. Like so many of history’s big names, Nelson’s achievements have become shrouded in legend, and in this programme experts Mark Grove and Peter Warwick extract the man from the myth to reveal what set him apart.

Born in 1758 in Norfolk, Nelson had always lived by the sea, and was desperate to join the Navy from a young age. When his sea-officer uncle was given a new ship, Nelson begged to be part of the crew, and was made midshipman at the tender age of 12.
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His progress thereafter was prodigious, and he rose to the rank of captain by the time he was 20.

But he really made his name during the French Revolution, when Britain, refusing to recognise the new French republic, was at war with France and its ally Spain. Among the French revolutionaries Nelson was fighting was the 24 year-old artillery officer Napoleon Bonaparte. This marked the start of a historical conflict between the two military leaders that would last for 12 years – and the costs would be high: Nelson lost the sight in his right eye, and later also one of his arms.

This programme follows Nelson’s colourful personal life as well as his naval career to create a vibrant picture of this complex man, whose immortalisation was guaranteed when he died during his greatest hour at the Battle of Trafalgar, and who was, according to Peter Warwick “a ruthless, determined fighter, but also a very human man."

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The Great Heroes - Napoleon Bonaparte

The Great Heroes - Napoleon Bonaparte Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

This episode profiles Napoleon Bonaparte, the French military genius who rose to power during the Revolution and declared himself Emperor – and whose vision of a united Europe may yet triumph over the scepticism of the British who finally ended his career at Waterloo.

Napoleon was born in Corsica and educated at the Royal Military Academy, where his hunger for learning and sympathy for the ideals of the Revolution set him aside from his fellow cadets.

With the old order destroyed, Napoleon prospered under the wing of the feared Robespierre. When his political master was executed, he narrowly avoided the same fate before meeting the love of his life, the aristocratic Josephine.

Napoleon married in 1796, then set off on the military campaign that would make his name. After defeating the Austrians, this talented but potentially troublesome soldier was sent to Egypt, where he brought back valuable loot and returned in triumph – whereupon, with the help of his brother, he entered Congress and seized power in a bloodless coup.

Then followed Napoleon’s glory years, as he crowned himself Emperor in 1804 and his armies conquered much of Europe. However, the disastrous march on Moscow brought his removal from power and exile to the island of Elba.

Typically, Napoleon escaped and seized power once more, before his troops lost to the British at Waterloo in 1815. His second exile, in remote St Helena, proved his last, and he died there in 1821.

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The Life and Times of Nelson Mandela

The Life and Times of Nelson Mandela Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

The subject of this episode is Horatio Nelson, whose naval career began at the age of 12 and ended with one of the greatest military victories in history. Like so many of history’s big names, Nelson’s achievements have become shrouded in legend, and in this programme experts Mark Grove and Peter Warwick extract the man from the myth to reveal what set him apart.

Born in 1758 in Norfolk, Nelson had always lived by the sea, and was desperate to join the Navy from a young age. When his sea-officer uncle was given a new ship, Nelson begged to be part of the crew, and was made midshipman at the tender age of 12.

His progress thereafter was prodigious, and he rose to the rank of captain by the time he was 20.

But he really made his name during the French Revolution, when Britain, refusing to recognise the new French republic, was at war with France and its ally Spain. Among the French revolutionaries Nelson was fighting was the 24 year-old artillery officer Napoleon Bonaparte. This marked the start of a historical conflict between the two military leaders that would last for 12 years – and the costs would be high: Nelson lost the sight in his right eye, and later also one of his arms.

This programme follows Nelson’s colourful personal life as well as his naval career to create a vibrant picture of this complex man, whose immortalisation was guaranteed when he died during his greatest hour at the Battle of Trafalgar, and who was, according to Peter Warwick “a ruthless, determined fighter, but also a very human man.”

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Stalin

Stalin Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

2 DVD

Synopsis

He was Joseph Stalin, perhaps the most feared dictator the world has ever seen. The makers of this documentary series have travelled from the Stalin death camps on the Arctic Circle to his birthplace in Georgia. They have spoken to Stalin’s relatives, to his admirers and to his victims. They have had access to unique Soviet archive film. In this first programme we discover where Stalin came from and how he manged to seize almost limitless power.

TYRANT: During the Thirties, Joseph Stalin turned the soviet Union into a world industrial power. In the same decade, Stalin’s terror system killed over 20 million innocent Soviet people.

The second film in the STALIN series travels to Stalin’s death camps for the daughter Svetlana. Their stories are of great achievement dashed hopes, and bitter suffering which will live with them forever.

GENERALISSIMO : In his last decade Stalin had absolute power, and he established in Eastern Europe as well as the Soviet Union that system of controlled terror which still bears his name.

Yet he also received adulation as a war leader, the Generalissimo who took the credit for the Red Army’s leading role in smashing Hitler. He was hailed as scientist, thinker, fighter for peace, while he lived in paranoia and isolation.

This programme follows the final years and mysterious death of the man who told Khrushchev, “I trust no one. Not even myself”.

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