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HTF DVD Review: Ancient Egypt Unearthed



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#1 of 3 Todd Erwin

Todd Erwin

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Posted February 04 2009 - 06:29 AM

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Studio: Discovery Channel / Image Entertainment
Year: Various
Rated: Not Rated


US DVD Release Date: January 13, 2009

This DVD from the Discovery Channel is a 2-disc compilation of documentaries of ancient Egypt, consisting of a 5-part miniseries and four stand-alone programs.


DISC ONE

Egypt Uncovered
Year: 1998
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 anamorphic
English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles: None
Running Time: 255 minutes

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Egypt Uncovered is a 5-part miniseries on how archeologists are using modern technology to discover new details on Egyptian civilization, produced for The Discovery Channel and Channel Four Wales. This miniseries was previously available direct from discovery.com as a 5-disc set.

Part one, Chaos and Kings, suggests that Egyptian civilization may have started much earlier and 70 miles west of the banks of the Nile River.

Pyramid: The Resurrection Machine takes a look at many of the other structures and how they are connected to the pyramids and the pharaohs’ belief system.

Age of Gold follows the path of how the Egyptians acquired what they believed to be the flesh of the sun god, and how the Age of Gold flourished.

Deities and Demons takes a look at the different gods and religious rituals of ancient Egyptian culture.

In part five, Mummies into the Afterlife, CAT scans and MRIs are used to create 3-dimensional images of preserved mummies, and allows scientists to perform autopsies without disturbing their fragile remains.

Each episode is interesting for the material it presents, but I just wish it had been done in a more entertaining way. The narration by Philip Madoc is monotonous and can easily lure one to sleep. The stories are told either through re-enactments or by the archeologists with the assistance of various artifacts.

The 1.66:1 anamorphic video presentation appears as it may have been cropped from a 1.33:1 master source (often the titles are too close to the bottom of the screen and close-ups are a bit too intimate), and suffers from compression artifacts, noise, and color bleed, as well as moiré patterns on many of the pyramids.

Audio is an adequate Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix, encoded at 224 kbps. Narration and dialogue are intelligible, and the music doesn’t sound too constrained.


DISC TWO

Egypt’s Ten Greatest Discoveries
Year: 2007
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles: None
Running Time: 88 minutes

 

Movie: *** out of *****
Video: *** out of *****

Audio: *** out of *****

 

 

Archeologists, headed by Dr. Zahi Hawass, take the audience on a journey of ten of their greatest discoveries of ancient Egypt. Many of these are quite fascinating, such as a boat built and buried in the desert for Pharaoh Khufu (who also ordered the construction of the great pyramid). The boat was 13 stories tall (when stood on end), and was more or less constructed of pieces of wood stitched together with rope. Others are well-known, such as King Tut’s tomb and mummification practices. This is a fast-paced documentary, and the narration by Demetri Goritsas is quite engaging.

Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic video, Egypt’s Ten Greatest Discoveries has solid blacks and colors, with limited noise and compression artifacts, and good detail.

Audio is an adequate Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix, encoded at 224 kbps. Narration and dialogue are intelligible, and the music doesn’t sound too constrained.


Secrets of Egypt’s Lost Queen
Year: 2007
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles: None
Running Time: 99 minutes

 

Movie: *** out of *****
Video: *** out of *****

Audio: *** out of *****

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Hatshepsut was considered to be the most powerful female ruler of ancient Egypt, but little is known about her as many records of her were destroyed after her death. Dr. Zahi Hawass goes in search of her tomb within the Valley of the Kings. Throughout the program, the Queen’s many accomplishments are presented. This is another fast-paced documentary, narrated by Harry Prichett.

Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic video, Secrets of Egypt’s Lost Queen has solid blacks and colors, with limited noise and compression artifacts, and good detail.

Audio is an adequate Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix, encoded at 224 kbps. Narration and dialogue are intelligible, and the music doesn’t sound too constrained.


Why Ancient Egypt Fell
Year: 2008
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles: None
Running Time: 42 minutes

Movie: *** out of *****
Video: *** out of *****

Audio: *** out of *****

What caused the abrupt fall of ancient Egypt, and why? This documentary tries to answer that question, with the help of archeologist Dr. Fekri Hassan. His theory of a prolonged drought and famine is investigated by looking at soil samples and satellite geology.

Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic video, Why Ancient Egypt Fell has solid blacks and colors, with limited noise and compression artifacts, and good detail.

Audio is an adequate Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix, encoded at 224 kbps. Narration and dialogue are intelligible, and the music doesn’t sound too constrained.


Women Pharaohs
Year: 2001
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 full screen
English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles: None
Running Time: 50 minutes

Movie: *** out of *****
Video: *** out of *****
Audio: *** out of *****

Narrated by Kyra Sedgwick, Women Pharaohs follows the role of women in ancient Egypt, including Cleopatra, Nefertiti, Nefertari, and Hatshepsut, and is told through interviews with archeologists, re-enactments, and clips from Cecil B. DeMille’s 1932 film “Cleopatra.”

The 1.33:1 full screen video has solid blacks and colors, with limited noise and compression artifacts, and good detail.

Audio is an adequate Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix, encoded at 224 kbps. Narration and dialogue are intelligible, and the music doesn’t sound too constrained.


Overall:**** out of *****

If you are fascinated by ancient Egyptian culture and civilization, this 2-disc set is an affordable re-packaging of previously released DVDs (in addition to Egypt Uncovered, all titles on disc two, with the exception of Woman Pharaohs, were also available as individual DVDs). One major disappointment with this set is the lack of subtitles.


This DVD was reviewed on the following home theater gear:

  • Toshiba 56HM66 DLP HDTV
  • Sony Playstation 3 (outputting at 1080i)
  • Yamaha HTR-5940 Home Theater Receiver (in 5.1 configuration)
  • Yamaha NS-AP2600 Home Cinema Speaker Package
  • Yamaha YST-SW010 subwoofer


#2 of 3 Phil Carter

Phil Carter

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Posted February 10 2009 - 03:37 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toddwrtr
If you are fascinated by ancient Egyptian culture and civilization....

.....which I definitely am. Thanks for the review, Todd! Sounds like this is a good pickup for me.

cheers,
Phil
"I should never have written all of those tank programs."
-- Kevin Flynn, "Tron"
** My DVD / Blu-Ray collection; profile by DVD Profiler **

#3 of 3 sandy123

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Posted March 07 2009 - 02:04 AM

I'm also fascinated with the Ancient history , Phil Carter
And more specifically the Egyptian mythology about gods and goddesses

Thanks so much for the review, and waiting moerPosted Image