As you might know, except for an equestrian, I study to become a warfare expert, so when I found out about the 1997 documentary series “War and Civilization”, I got excited and the episodes are already in my playlist.
The documentary is based on the lifetime study of military historian John Keegan and is narrated by Walter Cronkite. It is based on a 5,000-year history of war and explains how warfare has shaped our way of living today. It’s a big project filmed in Mongolia, Japan, Europe and the Americas, in order to reproduce the battle scenes and the environment in which civilizations grew through the centuries. You know, we always think about war being a bad thing, but how many times have we thought about the decisive way it shapes our lives, identities and ways of doing things?
I got more excited with episode 3, whose theme is the horse as an instrument of war and its value as warriors’ reliable partner. You can see many, many, many horses on this film, as well as the way they were treated. There are some harsh scenes, but don’t forget, we are talking about the era when horses were about survival in battle as well as in everyday life. Until World War I, the cavalry, as we name the organized body of militants fighting on horseback, has been used as an integral part of offensive tactics, until their gradual, full replacement by armored vehicles and the confirmation that, in the contemporary world, it doesn’t stand a chance if circled by machine-gun phalanxes.
I quite disagree with the negative comments on the series, which themselves are inaccurate and quite biased about which was the best way of filming and displaying world-class documentaries in the 1990s, that is, before the DVD and blu-ray. And no, there were no skirmishers in ancient Greece, at least in the form that we have seen them in the West.
I have interest in warfare, I do recommend this documentary, which is shown below:
Also, you can watch the whole series in a YouTube playlist here: