RebeccaMcKenney Historyand Film DoctorDesai 24January 2018 TheStory of India: Beginnings and The Power of IdeasSummary Michael Wood presents a series ofdocumentaries about India in The Story ofIndia. The series begins with the episode titled Beginnings. This introductory episode briefly explores how peoplefirst arrived in India, and some of the languages used in Indian history. Woodbegins the first part of his series by stating that it is believed that “thefirst humans came from a golden egg laid by the king of the gods” (Story).
Some of the traditions of theancient people are still practiced today. For example, Brahmans are taughtwhat to say and how to act during religious rituals which have been handed downorally for thousands of years. It is noted that the ancient chants that havebeen handed down have “rules and patterns” that is understood to the modernperson, but it could be possible that these chants came from “bird song” (Story). Some Indians still also practiceinter-marriage which allows a family to pass down genetics.
When it comes to Indian religion,it is commented that it is ever changing. It is changing in the sense thatthere are thousands of divinities within Indian religion, though one of thepopular religions that seems to stay mostly the same is Buddhism. Wood continues his presentationwith the episode titled The Power ofIdeas.
In this episode, the Buddhist religion is briefly discussed, alongwith the story of two of India’s influential leaders, ChandraguptaMaurya and Ashoka. It is believed that the Buddha, the founder ofBuddhism, was once a prince who renounced his status and traveled to “find thetruth” (Story). While sitting under aBodhi tree, the Buddha had an enlightenment on what the Four Truths were andthat “you can become a liberated being” by freeing yourself from desire (Story).
ChandraguptaMaurya was an Indian king who successfully drove out Alexander the Great’ssuccessors and gained control of modern India. But he renounced his kingdom toseek salvation. Ashoka (Mauryagrandson) started out as a cruel ruler but after his war with Kalinga, hestumbled across “one of the most dangerous ideas in history…non-violence” (Story). Two of his ideas that stillexist today include both human and animal rights. Wood concludes The Power of Ideas with Ashoka’s urgingfor religious tolerance. Reaction The documentary series The Story of India, presented by MichaelWood provides an insight of Indian history and culture.
One of the interestingthings that audiences learned from this presentation is that one of the reasonswhy some of the ancient cities declined was due to “the change of climate andthe environment” caused by the “ramming” of India into Asia (Story). Another thing the audiencelearned was that Sanskrit is considered to be the “ancestor of all the moderndialects spoken in India.” (Story) As far as the how the documentaryitself was presented, there are wonderful shoots of the Indian landscape andsunrises and sunsets. Wood is clearly interested in the Indian culture, whichhelps the presentation of this documentary. Though there are periodic filmclips to help elaborate on different topics, it felt as if the clips were moreused to make sure the film had a certain amount of minutes than to elaborate.The score of The Story of India isrelaxing to listen to, and perhaps meant to help emphasize to recurring themeof non-violence that is recurring throughout these two episodes. Source The Story of India. By Michael Wood.
Dir.Jeremy Jeffs. Prod.
Rebecca Dobbs. Perf. Michael Wood. 2009. DVD.