This television series deserves to be more widely known. Apart from the first episode, which deals with the antecedents of cinema and the early inventors and their surviving films, the majority deal with specific themes. Each was fronted by Terry Gilliam, assisted by a number of actors portraying a variety of scenes and events, in addition to the films themselves (which are all titled with date of production and director).
The whole series is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, it adopts a truly international approach to the subject, instead of the usual focus upon American developments. Secondly, it places the development of cinema within a social and cultural context, with comments from thinkers as diverse as Freud and H.G. Wells. Thirdly, the sheer range of types of cinema is amazing....the first filmed surgical operation, early erotic/pornographic films, and issues of authenticity in reportage (the Boxer Rebellion filmed in Hove!)
If not already available, the series ought to be issued in DVD for both students and the interested general public.