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Disappearing World (TV series)
Cover of the Disappearing World Vol. 1 DVD box set
|Created by||Brian Moser|
|Country of origin||UK|
|Original language(s)||English, various languages (subtitled in English)|
|No. of episodes||49|
|Original network||Granada Television|
|Original release||19 May 1970 (1970-05-19) –
25 May 1993 (1993-05-25)
Disappearing World was a British documentary television series produced by Granada Television, which produced 49 episodes between 1970 and 1993. The episodes, each an hour long, each focus on a specific human community around the world, usually but not always a traditional tribal group.
The title of the series invokes salvage ethnography, and indeed some of the early episodes treat small societies on the cusp of great changes. However, later the series tried to escape the constraints of the title and already in the 1970s produced several episodes about urban, complex societies.:590 In 1980, Peter Loizos characterized the series title as "something of an albatross"; some filmmakers had suggested alternatives they saw as less problematic, but Granada declined to change it.:581 David Wason, the series producer in the 1990s, observed, "We recognise that the series title can be misleading. Our films more often reflect a changing world than a disappearing one."
Filming of episodes
Each episode was filmed on 16 mm film, on location, usually over the course of about four weeks. They were then edited in the Granada studios in Manchester, usually allowing three months, for the process.:582 Each episode was made in consultation with an anthropologist, working with the producer from the episode's conception, and building off of their personal relationships with the featured community. :378
In the United States, some of the episodes were re-edited as part of the PBS series "NOVA" (1974), and Odyssey (1980-1981),:202 indeed, they made up a quarter of the first season.:573 Later, episodes from the original Disappearing World ran but received little publicity.
The series was made available outside of broadcasts early, and proved themselves successful for teaching undergraduate anthropology.:591 Already in 1980, Granada Television had made the series available on videocassettes for educational purposes.:576 Most of the films are held in the Royal Anthropological Institute film library. Much of the series is now available on DVD. Network Distributing issued a 4-DVD set of the first 15 episodes in 2010.
In the 1960s, Denis Forman, the chairman of Granada Television, saw an amateur film made in the Amazon and became convinced that well-researched and well-made ethnographic films could have a broad appeal. He sought out its producer, Brian Moser, and had him train professionally at Granada, in exchange for backing for a series of documentaries about indigenous people in South America. The show debuted in 1970 with A Clearing in the Jungle, and Moser remained the series editor until 1977,:377 when, despite its success, the series went on hiatus due to production disputes.:382:576
The series received unusually high ratings for a documentary. In 1978, it was voted the best commercial series in that year.:382
The series was largely well-received by anthropologists. Of its initial run in the 1970s, Gregory A. Finnegan noted that "The series has brought an unprecedented wide awareness of anthropological subjects and, arguably, anthropology to the British public.":573 Peter Loizos wrote that the series had had "the most positive influence in the British mass media on public views both of 'primitive people' and of social anthropology.":575-576 Among anthropologists, it led to a great deal of writing, discussing documentary film style, working conditions, cooperation between filmmakers and anthropologists, and accounts of films; assessments had been both positive and negative.:576
Upon the broadcast of the series in the United States, John Corry in the New York Times characterized its approach as a "throwback" to "the old days of educational television," with an "austere ethos" that allows viewers to make their own judgments.
After reviewing The Last of the Cuiva, Pia and David Maybury-Lewis, Cultural Survival Inc. and Harvard University said, "We saw the film twice because we had to, but I would recommend that anyone else should do the same for enjoyment, awe, sorrow, and time to contemplate what is going on in the indigenous world, if one can use such a term. The Last of the Cuiva is first and foremost an anthropological film that tries to tell “how it was” and “how it is now.” One hopes against hope that the latter is overdone, but of course, if one reads the newspapers, one knows that the film is right."
It was nominated for the BAFTA award for Factual Series every year from 1975 to 1978, winning in 1976. It was nominated again in 1991. The episode We Are All Neighbors won an International Emmy Award for Best Documentary at the 21st International Emmy Awards, sharing the honor with Monika and Jonas – The Face of the Informer State.
|Episode No.||Title||Ethnic group||Director/producer||Anthropologist||Broadcast date|
|1||A Clearing in the Jungle||Panare||Charlie Nairn||Jean-Paul Dumont||19 May 1970|
|2||The Last of the Cuiva||Cuiva||Brian Moser||Bernard Arcand||8 June 1971, as part of NOVA series 31 March 1974|
|3||Embera: The End of the Road||Emberá||Brian Moser||Ariane Deluz||15 June 1971|
|4||War of the Gods||Maku and Barasana||Brian Moser||Peter Silverwood-Cope and Christine and Stephen Hugh-Jones||22 June 1971|
|5||The Tuareg||Tuareg||Charlie Nairn||Jeremy Keenan||18 April 1972|
|6||The Meo||Miao||Brian Moser||Jacques Lemoine||4 July 1972|
|7||Kataragama: A God for All Seasons||Sri Lankan||Charlie Nairn||Gananath Obeyesekere||20 November 1973|
|8||Dervishes of Kurdistan||Kurds||Brian Moser||André Singer and Ali Bulookbashi||4 October 1974|
|9||The Mursi||Mursi||Leslie Woodhead||David Turton||13 November 1974|
|10||Mehinacu||Mehinaku||Carlos Pasini||Thomas Gregor||20 November 1974|
|11||Masai Women||Maasai||Chris Curling||Melissa Llewelyn-Davies||27 November 1974|
|12||Quechua||Quechua||Carlos Pasini||Michael Sallnow||4 December 1974|
|13||Ongka's Big Moka: The Kawelka of Papua New Guinea||Kawelka||Charlie Nairn||Andrew Strathern||11 December 1974|
|14||The Sakuddei||Sakuddei||John Sheppard||Reimar Schefold||18 December 1974|
|15||Masai Manhood||Maasai||Chris Curling||Melissa Llewelyn-Davies||8 April 1975|
|16||The Kirghiz||Kirghiz||Charles Nairn and André Singer||Nazif Shahrani||29 December 1975|
|17||The Shilluk||Shilluk||Chris Curling||Paul Howell, Walter Kunijwok, and André Singer||5 January 1976|
|18||Eskimos of Pond Inlet - The People's Land||Inuit||Michael Grigsby||Hugh Brody||12 January 1976|
|19||Some Women of Marrakesh||Moroccan||Melissa Llewelyn-Davies||Elizabeth Fernea||26 January 1977|
|20||The Rendille||Rendille||Chris Curling||Anders Grum||23 February 1977|
|21||Sherpas||Sherpas||Leslie Woodhead and Pattie Winter||Sherry Ortner||13 April 1977|
|22||Umbanda||Brazilians||Stephen Cross||Peter Fry||23 November 1977|
|23||The Pathans||Afghans||André Singer||Akbar Ahmed and Remy Dor||20 February 1980|
|24||Witchcraft Among the Azande||Azande||André Singer||John Ryle||9 March 1982|
|25||Asante Market Women||Asante||Claudia Milne||Charlotte Boaitey||16 March 1982|
|26||The Kwegu||Kwegu||Leslie Woodhead||David Turton||23 March 1982|
|27||Inside China: Living with the Revolution||Chinese||Leslie Woodhead||Claire Lasko||27 April 1983|
|28||Inside China: The Newest Revolution||Chinese||Leslie Woodhead||Claire Lasko||4 May 1983|
|29||Inside China: The Kazakhs of China||Kazakhs in China||André Singer||Shirin Akiner||18 May 1983|
|30||The Migrants||Mursi and Kwegu||Leslie Woodhead||David Turton||14 October 1985|
|31||The Kayapo||Kayapo||Michael Beckham||Terence Turner||3 June 1987|
|32||The Basques of Santazi||Basques||Leslie Woodhead||Sandra Ott||10 June 1987|
|33||The Lau of Malaita||Lau||Leslie Woodhead||Pierre Maranda||1987|
|34||The Whalehunters of Lamalera||Lembatans||John Blake and David Wason||Robert Barnes||13 July 1988|
|35||Across the Tracks: Vlach Gypsies in Hungary||Vlachs||John Blake||Michael Stewart||20 July 1988|
|36||The Wodaabe||Wodaabe||Leslie Woodhead and David Wason||Mette Bovin||27 July 1988|
|37||The Kayapo: Out of the Forest||Kayapo||Michael Beckham||Terence Turner||13 June 1989|
|38||Villagers of the Sierra De Gredos||Spaniards||Peter Carr||William Kavanagh||20 June 1989|
|39||The Herders of Mongun-Taiga||Tuvans||John Sheppard||Caroline Humphrey||27 June 1989|
|40||The Mende||Mende||Bruce MacDonald||Marianne Ferme||18 July 1990|
|41||Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea||Trobrianders||David Wason||Annette B. Weiner||25 July 1990|
|42||The Kalasha: Rites of Spring||Kalasha||John Sheppard||Peter Parks||1 August 1990|
|43||The Mursi - The Land Is Bad||Mursi||Leslie Woodhead||David Turton||17 July 1991|
|44||The Mursi - Nitha||Mursi||Leslie Woodhead||David Turton||24 July 1991|
|45||The Albanians of Rrogam||Albanians||David Wason||Berit Backer||31 July 1991|
|46||Cakchiquel Maya of San Antonio Palopo||Kaqchikel||Bruce MacDonald||Tracy Bachrach Ehlers||7 August 1991|
|47||War: We Are All Neighbours||Bosnians||Debbie Christie||Tone Bringa||11 May 1993|
|48||War: Orphans of Passage - Sudan||Uduk||Bruce MacDonald||18 May 1993|
|49||War: The Longest Struggle||Karen||John Sheppard||Tom Sheahan||25 May 1993|
At the request of the Mongolian government, the episodes filmed in Mongolia during the 1970s were not distributed under the title Disappearing World, but should be considered in essence part of the series.:575
|Episode No.||Title||Ethnic group||Director/producer||Anthropologist||Broadcast date|
|On the Edge of the Gobi||Khalka Mongols||Brian Moser||Owen Lattimore||1975|
|The City on the Steppes||Khalka Mongols||Brian Moser||Owen Lattimore||1975|
- David Wason (1992). "Disappearing World: A Guide for Anthropologists". Passages: A Chronicle of the African Humanities. 4: 5.
- Jay Ruby (Spring 1994). "Review of Film as Ethnography, Peter Ian Crawford and David Turton, editors, and Innovation in Ethnographic Film: From Innocence to Self-consciousness, Peter Loizos". Visual Anthropology Review. 10 (1): 165.
- Peter Loizos (September 1980). "Granada Television's Disappearing World Series: An Appraisal". American Anthropologist. 82 (3): 573–594. doi:10.1525/aa.1980.82.3.02a00220.
- Faye Ginsburg. Paul Hockings (ed.). "Ethnographies on the Airwaves: The Presentation of Anthropology on the American, British, Belgian and Japanese Television". Principles of Visual Anthropology.
- "Nova". TVGuide.com. 31 March 1974. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
- Matthew Durington and Jay Ruby. Marcus Banks Jay Ruby (ed.). "Ethnographic Film". Made to Be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology. p. 202.
- Ruby, J.; Ruby, P.A.J. (2000). Picturing Culture: Explorations of Film and Anthropology. (Film. Anthropology). University of Chicago Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-226-73099-8. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
- John Corry (19 February 1985). "TV Review: 'Disappearing World' on Channel 13". The New York Times. p. 22.
- Film and Television Collections in Europe: The MAP-TV Guide. Psychology Press. 1995. p. 541. ISBN 9781857130157.
- "Disappearing World, Vol. 1/Granada Television International". National Library of Australia.
- Medicine, Bea; Baskauskas, Liucija (30 November 1999). "Department of Anthropology Film List". Anthropology, University of Regina. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
- Jenkins, Alan (June 1986). "Disappearing World Goes to China: A Production Study of Anthropological Films". Anthropology Today. Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 2 (3): 6–13. doi:10.2307/3033018. JSTOR 3033018.
- Pia; Maybury-Lewis, David (1974). "AudioVisuals". American Anthropologist. American Anthropological Association. 76 (2): 487–489. doi:10.1525/aa.1974.76.2.02a01160.
- "Television: Factual Series in 1976". BAFTA. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
- "Foreign Emmys Awarded". Variety. 22 November 1993.
- Royal Anthropological Institute. ""Ethnographic Film: RAI Film Festival". Retrieved 1 December 2018.
- "Disappearing World: Volume 1 · British Universities Film & Video Council". British Universities Film & Video Council. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
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