14 June 2008 | gizmomogwai
Exciting but not perfect project
At the turn of the millennium Biography tried the difficult and exciting project of attempting to rank the 100 most important people who lived between 1000 and 2000 CE. Any such list comparing the importance of people from different fields- Louis Armstrong versus Einstein versus Simon Bolivar- will be conceptually difficult, subjective and won't be seen as very scholarly, though scholars were consulted. The end result has a lot of great choices, particularly in the top 25, but it's America-centric- Ronald Reagan made the list but Otto von Bismarck doesn't? Why are there so few Asians? (Mao Zedong and Genghis Khan make the list though). And why does Susan B. Anthony make the list but people in other countries who won women the vote don't? (Mary Wollstonecraft, who comes in at #48, is a better, more international symbol of feminism, and perhaps should have ranked even higher). Some choices are dubious- Princess Diana had no achievements, and "Patient Zero"- the first AIDS patient- being on the list is an odd tribute to AIDS patients and it doesn't really belong here. Why not salute the first sufferer of the Black Plague too? It's also biased towards the most recent- Peter the Great only comes in at #83 when he first made Russia a great power. Would Lenin, Stalin and Gorbachev, who rank higher in this list, be as important without Peter?
The presentation of this documentary is good, with some of the music fitting the tone of the narration well. Some of the commentators also point out flaws in the list- the lack of Chinese leaders, how Princess Diana and Reagan don't quite belong- and it's to the documentary's credit that this criticism was included. For reasons unknown, though, some commentaries were cut from the video release.