Must-watch Video Documentaries

Gilbert Travis on Apr 09
Cosmos A Space Time Odyssey with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Google description:

"Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, in a departure from the type of material he is best known for, pays homage to Carl Sagan's award-winning and iconic "Cosmos" with this docuseries. Through stories of humankind's quest for knowledge, viewers travel across the universe. Scientific concepts are presented clearly, with both skepticism and wonder, to impart their full impact. Renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts, and Sagan's original creative collaborator, Ann Druyan, serves as an executive producer."

What We Still Don't Know, Are We Alone? (2004)

Youtube description:

"The Universe is still a place of mystery and wonder. As a cosmologist, I am exhilarated that we can make some progress towards tackling what seem very fundamental questions.

These programs focus on: Was there a beginning? Whether we are alone? What's the future of the cosmos?

What is the nature of reality? With each advance, new questions come into sharper focus. The key issue is what we still don't know.

Are we alone?

Sir Martin explores the possibility that life exists on planets beyond our own. He unveils an unsettling scientific debate that has startling consequences for us Earthlings. Do you believe in aliens? If not, a quick glance through these pages might change your mind!"

Craigslist Joe (2012)

A guy tries to live just by posting whatever he needs on Craigslist. It's incredible to see how people are so willing to help.

Youtube description:

"In a time when America's economy and sense of community were crumbling, one guy left everything behind--to see if he could survive solely on the support of the 21st century's new town square: Craigslist. It was in this climate that 29-year-old Joseph Garner cut himself off from everyone he knew and everything he owned, to embark on a bold adventure. Armed with only a laptop, cell phone, toothbrush, and the clothes on his back--alongside the hope that community was not gone but just had shifted--Joseph began his journey. For 31 December days and nights, everything in his life would come from the Craigslist website. From transportation to food, from shelter to companionship, Joe would depend on the generosity of people who had never seen him and whose sole connection to him was a giant virtual swap meet. Would America help Joe? Could he survive with nothing, apart from the goodwill of others?

Director: Joseph Garner

Executive Producer: Zach Galifianakis"

Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do? by Harvard University

Not exactly a documentary but a series of philosophical debate about justice.

Youtube description:

"PART ONE: THE MORAL SIDE OF MURDER

If you had to choose between (1) killing one person to save the lives of five others and (2) doing nothing even though you knew that five people would die right before your eyes if you did nothing—what would you do? What would be the right thing to do? Thats the hypothetical scenario Professor Michael Sandel uses to launch his course on moral reasoning. After the majority of students votes for killing the one person in order to save the lives of five others, Sandel presents three similar moral conundrums—each one artfully designed to make the decision more difficult. As students stand up to defend their conflicting choices, it becomes clear that the assumptions behind our moral reasoning are often contradictory, and the question of what is right and what is wrong is not always black and white.

PART TWO: THE CASE FOR CANNIBALISM

Sandel introduces the principles of utilitarian philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, with a famous nineteenth century legal case involving a shipwrecked crew of four. After nineteen days lost at sea, the captain decides to kill the weakest amongst them, the young cabin boy, so that the rest can feed on his blood and body to survive. The case sets up a classroom debate about the moral validity of utilitarianism—and its doctrine that the right thing to do is whatever produces "the greatest good for the greatest number."

The Rise and fall of an Empire - BBC

A documentary about one of the greatest empires ever: The Roman Empire

Youtube description:

"The First Barbarian War - I do not own the rights to this video track, nor its audio track, its uploaded for educational reasons only, knowledge is free"

Youtube channel description:

"Planet Earth is a 2006 British television series produced by the BBC Natural History Unit. Five years in the making, it was the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC and also the first to be filmed in high definition.

Planet Earth premiered on 5 March 2006 in the United Kingdom on BBC One, and by June 2007 had been shown in 130 countries.

The series comprises eleven episodes, each of which features a global overview of a different biome or habitat on Earth. At the end of each fifty-minute episode, a ten-minute featurette takes a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges of filming the series."

Tsunami Caught On Camera by Channel 4 (2009)

A documentary about the tsunami disaster of Boxing Day 2004.

Youtube video description:

"NO PARTS copyright was not intended Commercial Interruption brought to you by Channel 4 news: 24:19 WARNING: This movie is very intense and graphic, It may make you cry. Viewer Discretion is Advised. It is rated TV-MA"

Human Planet by BBC (2011)

First episode (Oceans) in the video. Other episodes can also be found on Youtube. I'm not sure if it is legal though.

"Nearly all human populations in coastal areas interact intensively with the sea. The food harvest is enormous, varied and obtained in various, sometimes ingenious ways, including cooperation with wild dolphins. Dangers and scarcity worsen for environmental reasons, climate change bodes even worse. Aquatic sports are also culturally important, sometimes even defining."

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