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The Adventure of Photography (1998) – DVD Review

The Adventure of Photography DVD cover art


Written by: Elisabeth Cadoche, Roger Therond, and Philippe Azoulay
Directed by: Philippe Azoulay


  1. All ten episodes on two discs

Released by: Kultur
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Check it out from the library.

You ever look closely at an hourglass? You can watch the flow of sand from one bulb to another, but it’s nearly impossible to track the individual grains. Those grains are like moments of time; the flow is easier to see than its components. What photography does is take a moment, capture its image with optics then freeze it in chemistry. The Adventure of Photography gives an overview of what people have done with this seemingly magical process. From the stark reality of scientific photography and photojournalism to the flights of fantasy of surrealism and fashion, from the beauty of the naked human form to the horror of that form mutilated by war, this series touches on how photography has changed how we see the world and ourselves.

[ad#longpost]You know, the French can put together a decent documentary series. Of course the series has a French slant in its presentation, but this didn’t bother me since I’m sure our documentaries probably have an American bias. We get plenty of experts who study the history of photography as well as current practitioners of the crafts throughout the series. And a great many photos are displayed to illustrate the various themes the episodes cover. And displaying the artist, title, and year of the work being shown helps the viewer keep track of what’s going on. However, being French and artistic, the language used can get a little too arty and pretentious. And the translation to English is not as good as it could be. There are several instances where the narrator seems to be rushing through his speech. This is because the English text has to be read through to fit a certain time frame. It’s not a huge problem but it’s very disconcerting.

There is nothing on these two discs apart from the episodes themselves. There’s not even any chapter selection for the individual episodes. I know I can fast forward to the middle of an episode if I need to, but chapter stops are so standard, they are conspicuous in their absence. And a separate photo gallery to see the photos without having to search an episode would have been nice too. These would have added some needed oomph to a decent series. All in all, The Adventure of Photography is good enough to watch, but it’s not worth spending money on.

Sample photos from The Adventure of Photography

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