“If you can control the sky, you can control the world.”
With the current remake of Ray Harryhausen’s Clash Of The Titans, is it any real surprise that there might be a resurgence of interest in the gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus in Greek mythology? The Greeks created an entire family of deities to explain the various natural elements and phenomena around them. There were gods of the sea and of the underworld. There were even gods of wine and music. It was believed that these supernatural beings sat high on the highest point of the Greek island nation, interfering in the affairs of men to settle their own petty squabbles and arguments. Being all-powerful was somewhat boring, and so these beings, with very human qualities of greed, jealousy, and spite, played an endless game with the lives of the mere humans for their own entertainment and amusement.
This A&E series used a variety of methodologies to bring us some of these fascinating stories and beliefs. Each episode would focus on a particular member of this divine family of super humans. Through narration we’re given their story. We learn about their origins and even some of the real life events that could have given birth to some of these myths. The show relies on rather short dramatizations to emphasize the points and put somewhat of a face to the myths. Unfortunately, these dramatizations amount to little more than posturing poses and sneering looks from actors dressed to represent these powerful beings. There’s some computer generated imagery to highlight some of the more spectacular events, as well as classic paintings and descriptions to complete the lesson. There’s a ton of repetition here, which makes it a little less of a sale on home video. While there are many mythology experts on hand to help tell the stories, the piece is narrated by Stan Bernard. They didn’t even bother with a name voice to help out as is their usual MO.
While the presentation might be somewhat underwhelming, there’s no question that there’s a lot to learn from these ancient figures. There are quite a few influences from these famous stories that continue to influence not only our literature today but our very culture. Greek names are used frequently from NASA space program project names like Apollo to modern superhero comics and blockbuster films. It’s rather nice to have some real fact behind the current hype.
Each episode is presented in its original high definition broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Unfortunately, even in high definition there’s not a whole lot to love about this image presentation. The computer generated stuff is quite low end and has absolutely no texture or detail whatsoever. The filmed elements are only marginally better. It’s obvious that A&E wasn’t spending a huge amount on the show. Black levels are no better than a solid DVD release.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is pretty much dialog and little more. Thunder effects and other elements of the dramatizations are actually quite poor in quality.
This stuff is worth renting, but only for the solid information the episodes provide. This is not up to the A&E standard that I usually expect out of their releases. The channel often sets the standard for high definition documentary, but that’s just not the case here. It’s a quick cash-in of a currently hot topic. Maybe the A&E crew might revisit the subject later with standards more befitting the company. There’s plenty of historical stuff here to make it worth a quick look anyway at “the truth behind the myth”.