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Treasures of the Anglo-Saxons 2010
Description: In this hour-long documentary, Oxford academic Janina Ramirez tours the country in find of Anglo-Saxon art treasures. Her primary thesis - and it is a plausible one - is that we could not look upon their era as a "dark age" as compared, for example, to Roman times, but rather celebrate it as an age in which creativity flowered, especially in terms of artistic design as well as symbolism. She shows plenty of nice examples, ranging from the Franks Casket to the Staffordshire Hoard, and the Lindisfarne Gospels. - l_rawjalaurence
Released: 10 Aug 2010 Director: Andy Robbins Writers: N/A Actors: Janina Ramirez, Kim Siddorn, David Symonds Genres: Documentary
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Treasures of the Anglo-Saxons Reviews:

In this hour-long documentary, Oxford academic Janina Ramirez tours the country in find of Anglo-Saxon art treasures. Her primary thesis - and it is a plausible one - is that we could not look upon their era as a "dark age" as compared, for example, to Roman times, but rather celebrate it as an age in which creativity flowered, especially in terms of artistic design as well as symbolism. She shows plenty of nice examples, ranging from the Franks Casket to the Staffordshire Hoard, and the Lindisfarne Gospels.Despite her obvious enthusiasm for the topic, the tool remains rather unsatisfying. Partly this is due to lack of structure: Ramirez moves from treasure to treasure, without now pointing out any particular urls between them (other than the prevalence of familiar symbols). It would have been nice to have had more sense of historical context; how the Anglo-Sacon era evolved both culturally and artistically, and how such developments changed the methods in which designs and symbols were used on weapons, religious and secular materials. Nor do we receive a clear picture of how Christianity came to Britain, and how (and whether) it had a particular influence over the method in which the Anglo-Saxons used their symbols. Perhaps more explanation and fewer treasures might have been useful.The script - uncredited but perhaps written by Ramirez herself - includes a fair share of howlers. At one mission she refers to someone lying "prostate" on the ground, rather than "prostrate" (the photo is a fascinating one). On other opportunity she describes a design as both "naturalistic and realistic" (isn't there an necessary distinction between the two terms, especially for contemporary audiences acquainted with Modernism?); and, perhaps greatest of all, she describes how a swirl on a design "moves the eye." Perhaps some more careful work by the producers might have worked here.


A highly available introduction into the globe of Anglo-Saxon art. All the large finds are included here, from the Franks Casket to the Staffordshire Hoard, the Lindisfarne Gospels and plenty more besides. The hour-long documentary consists of the presenter, Dr Janina Ramirez, travelling around the UK and learning something about various Anglo-Saxon artefacts and what went into their production.Scholars might search this far too shallow for their liking, but the programme's been made as a light introduction for the casual viewer and I thought it did a splendid job. The pretty Ramirez is refreshingly down to world and, I thought, made for a fine presenter.



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