The Ascent of Man

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The Ascent of Man is a thirteen-part documentary television series produced by the BBC and Time-Life Films first transmitted in 1973, written and presented by Jacob Bronowski. Intended as a series of personal view documentaries in the manner of Kenneth Clark’s 1969 series Civilisation, the series received acclaim for Bronowski’s highly informed but eloquently simple analysis, his long unscripted monologues and its extensive location shoots. The title alludes to The Descent of Man, the second book on evolution by Charles Darwin. Over the series’ thirteen episodes, Bronowski traveled around the world in order to trace the development of human society through its understanding of science. Series outline:
  1. Lower than the Angels – Evolution of man from proto-ape to 400,000 years ago.
  2. The Harvest of the Seasons – Early human migration, agriculture and the first settlements, war.
  3. The Grain in the Stone – Tools, development of architecture and sculpture.
  4. The Hidden Structure – Fire, metals and alchemy.
  5. Music of the Spheres – The language of numbers.
  6. The Starry Messenger – Galileo’s universe.
  7. The Majestic Clockwork – Explores Newton and Einstein’s laws.
  8. The Drive for Power – The Industrial Revolution.
  9. The Ladder of Creation – Darwin and Wallace’s ideas on the origin of species.
  10. World within World – The story of the periodic table.
  11. Knowledge or Certainty – Physics and the clash of absolute knowledge, the oppressive state, and its misgivings realizing the result of its terrible outcome.
  12. Generation upon Generation – Life, genetics, and the cloning of identical forms.
  13. The Long Childhood – Bronowski’s treatise on the commitment of man.

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