A documentary series that details the building of seven wonders of the last 200 years: the Great Eastern, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Bell Rock Lighthouse, the First Transcontinental Railroad, London's sewer system, the Panama Canal and the Hoover Dam.Written by
I can only agree with the previous comment posted by Richard Tunnah (I note that he, like me, is from Birmingham, cradle of the Industrial Revolution) - this is, quite simply, an astonishingly accomplished series. The dramatisation of the seven incredible projects is superb, featuring excellent actors (some unknown, some familiar, and some surprising - an unrecognisable, and suitably restrained, Steven Berkoff as Roebling of the Brooklyn Bridge, for example), and instantly banishes the knee-jerk feelings of trepidation one has upon hearing, or reading, the dread words: 'dramatic reconstruction'. This is opulent costume drama of the highest order, and based in fact! No neurotic young women or old maids, no moustache-twirling cads or callow bores here - these are true heroes of the old school, whether it be the pugnacious cigar-chomping Brunel, the youthful Scot Stevenson, or the mother and son team of the Roeblings.
The techniques of filming the characters in to-camera interviews, following them at times with hand-held cameras as if for a news programme, and other 'faux live' methods, could have been risible if not performed by the consummate professionals who clearly made this series. They make the events covered accessible and relevant, without dumbing down, a difficult trick to pull off but here successful.
The special effects are magnificent and illustrate the stories to perfection. Although not always convincing, they never fail to be beautiful. Who could not be stirred by the sight of the gigantic 'Great Eastern' beached at Millwall, looming over the surrounding landscape as she takes form?
And who could not fail to be moved by the sheer determination of these great engineers?
This is a series which does them justice, and is simply unmissable for anyone with even a vague interest in how the modern world was shaped.
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