Brit DVD Reviews: In Their Own Words – From Acorn / Athena – History

This DVD set was a pleasure to behold. In Their Own Words is a journey through the 20th centuy with Britain’s Great Novelists and Great Thinkers.

Released for the first time in the USA, In Their Own Words features 6 episodes of a BBC series that first aired in the UK a few years ago. The BBC went through their archive and found rare recordings of great writers and thinkers and structured an exploration of the 20th century around them.

The set is broken up into two discs, the first set is focus on Britain’s great novelists and the second disc is focused on Britain’s great thinkers. The novelists covered in the first set include: Virginia Woolf, JRR Tolkien, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Graham Greene, Salman Rushie, Martin Amis, Evenlyn Waugh, Doris Lessing and a few others. The second set focuses on Britain Great Thinkers. The great thinkers covered in the second set include: Sigmund Freud, Bertrand Russell, John Maynard Keynes, Margaret Mead, Jane Goodall and more.

Highlights on the interviews include the only known recording of Virginia Woolf, segments on Susan Sontag and Margaret Mead, Freud, Ian McEwan, Tolkien and many more.

Many of the interviews have not been heard since they were first broadcast many years ago – which makes this series such a treat. Rarely do you get to hear the voices of the greats of 20th century letters and thought in their own voice. It’s an interesting exploration of the major events of the 20th century through the lens of the people who lived through it.

The eras covered in the series start in post-World War I Britain all the way up to the 1990’s. There’s quite a bit covered but it’s all very well handled and entertaining. One of the most fascinating facts I learned is that George Orwell used to host a radio show for the BBC but none of his shows were considering worth saving for posterity! What a loss!

The DVD set is mastered well – looks great on a modern HDTV and it’s in 16:9 widescreen format. The bonus features include a 16 page viewer’s guide that summarizes the visionary ideas, profiles the people involved, perspectives on the novels and much more. There are also useful biographies on the all the key figures on the DVD’s themselves.

Overall, a greatly enjoyable DVD set! It’s very rich and you’ll come away having learned quite a bit. It’s like getting an entire English Lit course in the comfort of your armchair from your favorite professor.

In Their Own Words was released by Acorn Media / Athena and retails for $49.99. Amazon has it cheaper. Well worth the money.

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