Civilisation

The BEST episodes of Civilisation

Every episode of Civilisation ever, ranked from best to worst by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The best episodes of Civilisation!

Kenneth Clark's 13-part series produced by British Broadcasting Corporation's Channel 2 (BBC-2) in 1969 and released in the United States in 1970 on public television, remains a milestone in the history of arts television, the Public Broadcasting System, and the explication of high culture to interested laypeople. The series offers an extended definition of the essential qualities of Western civilization through an examination of its chief monuments and important locations. While such a task may seem both arrogant and impossible, Clark's views are always stimulating and frequently entertaining. Civilization, he suggests, is energetic, confident, humane, and compassionate, based on a belief in permanence and in the necessity of self-doubt.

Last Updated: 9/28/2022Network:BBC Two
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Heroic Materialism
star
10.00
31 votes

#1 - Heroic Materialism

Season 1 - Episode 13 - Aired 5/18/1969

To conclude this landmark series, Kenneth Clark considers the ways in which the heroic materialism of the past hundred years has been linked to an equally remarkable increase in humanitarianism. The achievement of engineers and scientists such as Brunel and Rutherford has been matched by the work of great reformers like Wilberforce and Shaftesbury. As Clark notes, the concept of kindness only became important in the last century.

Directors: Michael Gill
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Protest and Communication
star
9.06
31 votes

#2 - Protest and Communication

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired 3/30/1969

Kenneth Clark investigates the Protestant Reformation in northern Europe. He looks at Holbein, Thomas Moore, Erasmus, the printing press and Dürer.

Directors: Peter Montagnan
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The Light of Experience
star
9.06
31 votes

#3 - The Light of Experience

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired 4/13/1969

Here Clark tells of new worlds in space and in a drop of water that the telescope and microscope revealed, and the new realism in the Dutch paintings which took the observation of human character to a higher stage of development.

Directors: Michael Gill
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The Fallacies of Hope
star
9.03
60 votes

#4 - The Fallacies of Hope

Season 1 - Episode 12 - Aired 5/11/1969

'Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive' wrote Wordsworth of the early days of the French Revolution, but the storming of the Bastille led not to freedom but to the Terror, the dictatorship of Napoleon and the dreary bureaucracies of the 19th Century. Kenneth Clark traces the progressive disillusionment of the artists of the Romantic movement through the music of Beethoven, the poetry of Byron and the sculpture of Rodin.

Directors: Michael Gill
Watch Now:Amazon
Man: The Measure of all Things
star
9.03
32 votes

#5 - Man: The Measure of all Things

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired 3/16/1969

Kenneth Clark continues his personal reflections on civilisation with a look at Renaissance man. Clark visits Florence, where the resurrection of a classical past first gave a new impetus to European thought, and then journeys to the palaces of Urbino and Mantua, where the Renaissance manifested itself in glorious architecture. He talks of Humanism and of perspective, of Donatello, Botticelli and Van Eyck.

Directors: Michael Gill
Watch Now:Amazon
The Great Thaw
star
9.03
34 votes

#6 - The Great Thaw

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired 3/2/1969

In the second episode Clark tells of the sudden reawakening of European civilisation in the twelfth century . He traces it from its first manifestations in the Abbey of Cluny to its high point, the building of the Chartres cathedral.

Directors: Peter Montagnan
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The Skin of our Teeth
star
8.84
44 votes

#7 - The Skin of our Teeth

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 2/23/1969

Sir Kenneth Clark begins his classic 1969 series on the history of civilisation with the re-establishment of civilisation in Western Europe, in the tenth century after the fall of Rome to barbarism. He travels from Byzantine Ravenna to the Celtic Hebrides examining aqueducts, cathedrals, the lives of the Vikings and of the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne.

Directors: Michael Gill
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The Hero as Artist
star
8.13
31 votes

#8 - The Hero as Artist

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired 3/23/1969

Kenneth Clark continues his personal reflections on civilisation with a look at Papal Rome in the early 16th Century. Three great artists, Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci are the chief protagonists in Clark's 'Individuals of Genius' theme. It takes him through the gardens and courtyards of the Vatican to the rooms decorated for the Pope by Raphael, and to the Sistine Chapel.

Directors: Ann Turner
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Grandeur and Obedience
star
8.13
31 votes

#9 - Grandeur and Obedience

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired 4/6/1969

Sir Kenneth Clark presents one of the classic episodes of his history of the civilised culture of the western world. He examines the Catholic world in the 16th Century, especially the city of Rome which blossomed architecturally and sculpturally during the Counter Reformation under the hands of the baroque artist Bernini. This programme features the celebrated and stunning tracking shot through Raphael's Loggia.

Directors: Peter Montagnan
Watch Now:Amazon
The Pursuit of Happiness
star
8.13
31 votes

#10 - The Pursuit of Happiness

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired 4/20/1969

Here Clark talks of the harmonious flow and complex symmetries of the works of Bach, Handel, Haydn and Mozart — and the reflection of these in the Rococo churches and palaces of Bavaria.

Directors: Peter Montagnan
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
The Smile of Reason
star
8.13
31 votes

#11 - The Smile of Reason

Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired 4/27/1969

Kenneth Clark looks at the beginnings of revolutionary politics in the 18th Century. His theme takes him from great palaces like Blenheim and Versailles, to Edinburgh, and to the hills of Virginia where Thomas Jefferson made his home in the 1760s.

Directors: Michael Gill
Watch Now:Amazon
Romance and Reality
star
8.12
33 votes

#12 - Romance and Reality

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 3/9/1969

Kenneth Clark journeys from the Loire through Tuscany and Umbria, to the cathedral at Pisa. He explores the aspirations of the later Middle Ages in France and Italy, looking at the work of Giotto and Dante among other artists.

Directors: Michael Gill
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
The Worship of Nature
star
7.19
31 votes

#13 - The Worship of Nature

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired 5/4/1969

Kenneth Clark examines a new force - the belief in the divinity of nature. This takes him to Tintern Abbey and the Lake District of Wordsworth, to the Swiss Alps and the ideas of Rousseau, and to the landscapes of Turner and Constable.

Watch Now:Amazon

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