Monday, January 7, 2013

The Ascent of Man



I'm in the process of watching Jacob Bronowski's "The Ascent of Man", originally broadcast in 1973 (which is about when I first saw it on TV at the ripe old age of 11 or 12). It's an interesting experience; it's much more measured and academic than modern documentaries of a similar ilk, and often requires much more close attention to follow.

Some of the information is outdated of course, owing to science not being immovably static like, say, religious dogma — he talks, for example, about the 92 elements of the Periodic table, and the planet Ceres. Some social and biological evolutionary theories have moved on a bit since then too. Overall though, it's still pretty informative as long as you know enough to know roughly what the current state of knowledge is.

The film-making is a sometimes unintentionally amusing mix of static talking-head shots and very groovy 60s-70s style arty-farty sound and vision... the first episode included Pink Floyd's Astronomy Domine in the soundtrack :)

The main thing about it that really grates though is the omnipresent and quite unconscious sexism. Everything is "Man" and "he" and "him" and "his". Women might as well not exist at all, and although I keep telling myself that he was a product of his time and that we've progressed significantly since then, it's nevertheless getting on my tits a bit.

Still, interesting stuff.