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Where to Watch Civilisation

Heroic Materialism
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.

Watch Civilisation Season 1 Episode 13 Now

The Fallacies of Hope
Sir Kenneth Clark's story takes him from the Holland of Rembrandt and Vermeer to the London of Wren, Purcell and the Royal Society.

Watch Civilisation Season 1 Episode 12 Now

The Worship of Nature
Sir Kenneth Clark visits Rome in search of grandeur and finds a city that gave rise to Michelangelo, Bernini and the Counter Reformation.

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The Smile of Reason
Kenneth Clark investigates the Protestant Reformation in northern Europe, and looks at Holbein, Thomas Moore, Erasmus and the printing press and Durer.

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The Pursuit of Happiness
Kenneth Clark continues his personal reflections on civilisation with a look at individuals of genius, notably Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.

Watch Civilisation Season 1 Episode 9 Now

The Light of Experience
Kenneth Clark continues his personal reflections on civilisation with a look at Renaissance man.

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Grandeur and Obedience
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.

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Protest and Communication
Kenneth Clark presents the landmark arts documentary series first shown in 1969. This programme traces the reawakening of European civilisation in the twelfth century.

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The Hero as Artist
Kenneth Clark considers heroic materialism and humanitarianism in the past 100 years.

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Man - The Measure of all Things
Sir Kenneth Clark traces the progressive disillusionment of the artists of the Romantic movement during the 19th century.

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Romance and Reality
Sir Kenneth Clark examines a new force - the belief in the divinity of nature.

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The Great Thaw
Kenneth Clark looks at the beginnings of revolutionary politics in the 18th century.

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The Skin of Our Teeth
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.

Watch Civilisation Season 1 Episode 1 Now

"Civilisation" is an engaging landmark British television series that originally aired from 1969 to 1970 on BBC2. Available for streaming on the BritBox platform, this was a massive project of historical significance, bringing to life 2,000 years of Western world history in a distinctive and untraditional manner.

The 13 episode series is written and narrated by Kenneth Clark, an eminent British art historian, and broadcast director of the National Gallery. Clark takes the viewers on a captivating journey across Europe, covering diverse epochs and cultures through art, architecture, philosophy, music, and social history.

As the title "Civilisation: A Personal View by Kenneth Clark" suggests, Clark presents a highly personalized perspective of the Western cultural history. His confident, charismatic, and often emotionally resonant narration is considered a masterclass in televisual storytelling.

The first episode, "The Skin of Our Teeth," sets the series in motion by turning the lens towards the Dark Ages, showcasing how the narrative thread of civilisation almost snapped through the barbaric onslaughts and was saved only by the monks and their illuminated manuscripts. The narrative does indeed read like a spellbinding book, each episode representing an exhilarating and immersive chapter that leaps out of the static confines of textbook learning into a dynamic, vibrant canvas of civilization's dawn and journey.

Furthermore, this serial is punctuated by eye-catching visuals and images as it was filmed across significant landmarks of historical and cultural importance, from Chartres Cathedral in France to the Parthenon in Greece and numerous Italian Renaissance masterpieces. It is a visual feast that consistently keeps the viewers engaged and amazed at the artistic grandeur.

Critical to the series is how it handles the significant shifts in Western civilization - exploring dramatic transformations from the Dark Ages to Byzantine splendors, Renaissance humanism to the Romantic era's poetic expanse - with the final episode, 'Heroic Materialism', culminating with the rise of western industrialized societies.

However, despite its sweeping historical canvas, "Civilisation" has rightly been hailed as anything but a dry, academic treatise on history. It maintains a distinct humanity in its narration as Clark often reflects on the artists and thinkers' lives, their personal traumas, inspirations, and the social context influencing their creativity.

Infused with his deep appreciation for art and architecture, Clark finds in these mediums not only natural beauty but also moral storm-centers of the human soul, passion, and intellectual convulsion. Thus, fanning out from the singular focus on dry dates and events, it dives deeply into an introspective exploration of human nature and society's ever-changing face.

It's essential to remember that "Civilisation" is a robust document of the late 1960s - a period dominated by widespread social changes, intellectual tumult, and the sudden emergence of television as a potent medium. Sir David Attenborough, then controller of BBC2, commissioned "Civilisation" in the grand attempt to show the nascent medium's potential as a tool for intellect, ideas, and inform-cultural growth.

To this day, it serves as a stirring example of historical and art documentary's potential, whose influence is discernible in subsequent programs, such as Jacob Bronowski's "The Ascent of Man" and Carl Sagan's "Cosmos."

While it has received criticism for its western-centeric view, "Civilisation" remains a must-watch for art lovers, history enthusiasts, or anyone looking to delve into Humanism's cultural and intellectual roots. Its richness, complexity, and accessibility demarcate it as one of the finest, most intellectually rewarding spectacles to have been produced in the realm of television history.

Therefore, despite the passage of half a century, "Civilisation" continues to captivate audiences, emerging as a timeless classic, an inviting gateway into the elegant and passionate universe of art history. It is not just a series, but an experience that causes viewers to reflect upon their existential being and relationship with society, culture, and history—now available for a new generation of viewers on BritBox.

Civilisation is a series categorized as a new series. Spanning 1 seasons with a total of 13 episodes, the show debuted on . The series has earned a mostly positive reviews from both critics and viewers. The IMDb score stands at 8.7.

How to Watch Civilisation

How can I watch Civilisation online? Civilisation is available on BritBox with seasons and full episodes. You can also watch Civilisation on demand at Amazon Prime online.

Kenneth Clark, Ian Richardson, Ronald Lacey
Civilisation is available on .