While the History Channel has never been afraid to take the macrocosmic view of history, as well as the microcosmic, sometimes they hit somewhere in between. That’s just what they’ve done with their release of “Mankind: The Story Of All Of Us”, a copy of which they sent to us for review.
“Mankind: The Story Of All Of Us” is pretty much exactly what it says on the box, a look at humanity from its earliest days clear up until the present. It’s separated into sections for easy use, and will run with specific themes for each section, like major inventors, human empires, the warriors of humanity, the plagues humanity endured, the treasures of the human world, and the like. You’ll get a look at a wide variety of topics, and several thousand years of human development all compressed down into one comparatively easy to handle nine hour box of footage.
Naturally, compressing several thousand years of human history into nine hours means that there’s going to be a lot we don’t discuss here, and plenty of distortion. You’ll have to accept the whole “big bang” sort of thing–Adam and Eve get short shrift here–and a lot of the history here will be stylized, punched up, made a little more exciting for human consumption. So yes, history purists, you will likely catch more than a few inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and assorted history-based problems here. But at the same time, the presentation is sufficiently sharp to hold interest in what might have been an otherwise dry subject, and make it at least a good summary of the human experience.
A major surprise in “Mankind–The Story Of All Of Us” is the narration of Josh Brolin, which is actually quite sharp. Stark when it needs to be, yet still has the potential to be gentle and clear. It’s some excellent narration and does a fine job of not only conveying information, but also creating mood. It’s hard not to approve of the presentation of that mood, which makes the information a bit more accessible and easier to work with.
As for bonus features, there will be several extra featurettes thrown in that didn’t specifically make it into the major subsections of history, but still meant quite a bit to the history of humanity, like the birth of farming, the domestication of the dog, the discovery of fire and several others. There will, however, be no subtitles, or even closed captioning of any kind, a practice that I generally disapprove of.
“Mankind–The Story Of All Of Us” is a solid if somewhat fragmented portrayal of the human condition as a whole. It may not be the best from an accuracy standpoint, but it will do a nice job of keeping interest and being very accessible.