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BARBARIANS

Review by Chastity Campbell

Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Studio: A&E
Features: See Review
Length: 200 Minutes
Release Date: February 24, 2004

Film ***

Fierce and sometime brutal beyond belief, Barbarians as we have termed them played a vital role in shaping the history of the civilized (if you can call it that with the way things are going nowadays) world.

Where would we be today without the Goths, and their fierce determination to fight the Huns who were forcing them from the only home they had ever known, or their would be allies the Romans who were selling Goth children into slavery? 

Without Barbarians, the fall of the Roman Empire may have taken longer than it did, and at least where fashion is concerned, those Goths got in there just in time, because the toga was so outdated.  Give me a good sheepskin coat any day!

This two-disc box set from A&E takes you back in time to a place where it was necessary to fight on a daily basis to simply survive.   Barbarians fought, and died for many different reasons.  Sometimes it was as simple as maintaining their belief system, and sometimes as complex as attempting to take over the rule of a kingdom in a show of ultimate dominance and power. 

Disc one contains two of the four episodes that make up this box set.  The first episode introduces you to the Vikings.  You’ll follow these master ship builders as they rape and pillage their way toward England and Paris in an attempt to gain as much wealth as possible.  Now that we have established their motivations, we must give them credit because it was these Viking Barbarians who are largely responsible for establishing trade routes between Europe, Africa, and all over the Middle East.  That old saying about good things coming from bad places seems to be in full force here.

The second episode on disc one features the Goths.   The Goths were a farming and mostly peaceful people who were forced to flee their homeland by the invading Hun armies.  The Goths sought refuge under the banner of the Roman Empire.  It wasn’t long however before the Romans began grinding the boot heel of oppression into the hearts of the homeless Goths.   Forced to sell their children into slavery and serve as battle fodder for the Roman Army, the Goths rebelled and began to retake the freedom that was stripped away from them.

Disc two takes you on a wild and crazy ride with the Mongols and the Huns.  The Mongols are one of the most interesting and terrorizing brbarian hoards to ever walk the land.  Their battle techniques are legendary, and still utilized by many armies today.  Mongol leaders like Genghis Khan and Tamerlane are known throughout history for the brutality they inflicted on the peoples their armies faced.  Completely without compassion or mercy,these Mongol leaders built an empire larger than any before it.  But what goes up must come down, and once you give this disc a spin you’ll see how greed and power can cause even the largest of empires to crumble from within. 

The final episode in this four part series takes you on a ride with Huns.  Led by the legendary Attila, these warriors were unrivaled in their horsemanship and prowess on the battlefield.   During the 4th and 5th centuries, the Huns military dominance brought the Roman Empire to the brink of destruction and led the Chinese to build the Great Wall Of China to keep them off of their lands.

I have watched many features presented by A&E but this by far, in scope and scale, exceeded even my expectations.  The DVDss are beautifully done, and contain some decent bonus features.  

I would definitely recommend this box set for educational, and more importantly, entertainment purposes.   A&E truly knows how to deliver a good time on DVD.  

Video ***

The look of this two disc DVD box set was as impressive as the sound quality.  The 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen presentation was vivid and clean with very few detectable flaws.  There was a tiny bit of softness around the top of some of the frames on disc two, but otherwise a very nice digital transfer.

Colors were vivid and bright, and by using a lot of natural lighting, these DVDs had a more realistic feel to them. 

Audio ***

A&E definitely has someone very good in the audio department, because these DVDs are mixed in a Dolby Digital Stereo mix that sounds better than some 5.1 Surround mixes I’ve heard. 

There were no audible dips in audio or dropouts that I could detect.  The music bed was blended into the background to allow the voice over to be front and center, while at the same time creating a seamless blending of the two.

Features **

Disc one contains a behind the scenes featurette that will entertain as well as inform. 

Disc two will “Khan” you into watching the Genghis Khan: Terror And Conquest episode of A&E’s award winning series, Biography.

Interactive Menus, and Scene Selection are available to make your viewing experience not only pleasurable but easy!  

Summary:

The audio is really well done, the video quality as always is superb, so whether by land or sea, these Barbarians need a place to rest, and your DVD player is just the place.   Grab them by the horned helmets and drag them off to your lair!