The Ascent of Man

Ratings: 8.05/10 from 44 users.


The Ascent of ManThe Ascent of Man is a thirteen-part documentary television series produced by the BBC and Time-Life Films first transmitted in 1973, written and presented by Jacob Bronowski.

Intended as a series of personal view documentaries in the manner of Kenneth Clark's 1969 series Civilisation, the series received acclaim for Bronowski's highly informed but eloquently simple analysis, his long unscripted monologues and its extensive location shoots.

The title alludes to The Descent of Man, the second book on evolution by Charles Darwin. Over the series' thirteen episodes, Bronowski traveled around the world in order to trace the development of human society through its understanding of science.

Series outline:

  1. Lower than the Angels - Evolution of man from proto-ape to 400,000 years ago.
  2. The Harvest of the Seasons - Early human migration, agriculture and the first settlements, war.
  3. The Grain in the Stone - Tools, development of architecture and sculpture.
  4. The Hidden Structure - Fire, metals and alchemy.
  5. Music of the Spheres - The language of numbers.
  6. The Starry Messenger - Galileo's universe.
  7. The Majestic Clockwork - Explores Newton and Einstein's laws.
  8. The Drive for Power - The Industrial Revolution.
  9. The Ladder of Creation - Darwin and Wallace's ideas on the origin of species.
  10. World within World - The story of the periodic table.
  11. Knowledge or Certainty - Physics and the clash of absolute knowledge, the oppressive state, and its misgivings realizing the result of its terrible outcome.
  12. Generation upon Generation - Life, genetics, and the cloning of identical forms.
  13. The Long Childhood - Bronowski's treatise on the commitment of man.

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26 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Tyler Stanley

    Man.. I always wanna see the comments on the new videos but it always takes a couple of days lol.

  2. Irishkev

    Are you jokin'?, sometimes you cant get a word in edgeways!

  3. David

    Liberal BBC garbage

  4. Dr. Dunkleosteus

    Incredible scope, I really enjoyed this, even if it is dated. The music is great!

  5. Tyler Stanley

    Yeah.. But i've pretty well seen all the good docs on here so I usually only look at the newer ones.

  6. Sandie Myers

    I'm so happy I kept an open mind and didn't "86" this just because it was made when I was 5! AGAIN, Thank you Vlatko. Good lookin out!

  7. Jack1952

    Nasty comment. No love in your heart?

  8. Paul So

    lol no, he obviously thinks that because of BBC's political tendency you can't trust anything Jacob Bronowski, a mathematician and scientist, says, which is unfortunate because BBC's political leanings is irrelevant to the facts presented by Bronowski.

  9. John Caprani

    This was made before the liberal virus took hold. Bronowski is an egalitarian with a progressive outlook, but not a contemporary laissez faire urban liberal. I think he would be horrified if he were alive today.

  10. Melanie_L

    How so, David?

  11. thekingbeyondthegate

    I'm not sure about the stereotype of boring mathematicians. All of the mathematicians I've been exposed to have been interesting.


    That's because you are into math. solving a math problem just for the sake of solving a math problem would only be interesting to someone who has an aptitude or interest in math for maths sake. I am a visual Artist and i am all about Art for Art sake and can relate in that way to math freaks. (it took many years to understand that), this conversation is not going anywhere special, just an observation.


    It almost sounds like you are patronizing the rest of us morons?

  14. old_nic

    Science and art are both interpretations of reality which should be regarded as complementary and not opposite

  15. prophis

    cool stuff

  16. David Perlman

    Thank yew! I'm a mathematician, and I don't think I'm boring even if I do say so myself. In fact, I like climbing trees, too. ( oops, see Lower than the Angels )

  17. Rob Krumm

    Episode #11 is the greatest hour of telivision ever created. Required viewing for anyone with a brain or a heart. He was a pioneer in finding ways to teach science - he made wonderful films for kids. This work influenced my life profoundly.

  18. Epicurus

    i just torrented this series the other day. love it

  19. Faddy Mhapa

    LOVE IT'''''''''........

  20. Space_Cadet_1952

    Bin there. Rubbished that. Created what?

  21. Christian Klinckwort Guerrero

    Does the Vatican has the courage to exress themselfes admiting their big error one of these days?

  22. Christian Klinckwort Guerrero

    With NASA's Space stacion, it would reflect humanity in the Vatican's policy to appologiese to humanity for what they did to Galilieo Galilei

  23. The_Common_Potato

    Totally top telly.

  24. Seth

    So good! This whole series is a gem.

  25. 3monkeys

    Why can't a network like Natgeo, Discovery, History Channel, etc show this instead of the endless teabilly crap they show now?

  26. AJ North

    One of the all-time greatest productions ever to grace television, this extraordinary series is as relevant today as it was when originally released in 1973.

    One of the last true renaissance men, Dr. Bronowski speaks to the viewer through the lens of the camera as if face to face, extemporaneously from his vast and wide-ranging knowledge. The anecdotes he shares of people he knew and worked with (especially from the Manhattan Project) are both moving and powerful.

    A veritable cornucopia of the history and philosophy of science, together with cultural anthropology, world history, and ethics and morality, this series is a must-see (the book of the same name, recently reissued, is a virtual transcript, and a worthwhile addition).

    Each episode (fifty minutes) is a treasure. Episode 11, "Knowledge or Certainty," however, is in a class by itself -- and should be required viewing.

    The latest DVD incarnation greatly improves on the sound, which was problematic even in the original broadcast (as all of the filming was on-location).

    Highest recommendation.

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