Story of China

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Travel from the Silk Road to the Yellow Sea with host Michael Wood as he explores the history of the world’s newest superpower. A thrilling and moving epic of the world’s oldest continuous state with the landscapes, peoples, and stories that made today’s China.

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The oldest state on earth, home to over a billion people, the second biggest economy in world, China is the new superpower. And as it flexes its muscles across the globe, it’s the country we all need to know about today. So it's a great time to look at what has made Chinese civilization so distinctive, and so brilliant, for so long. In this landmark series, Michael Wood argues that to understand China now you have to look at its history.

With stunningly beautiful imagery, the series shows us a China never seen before. Journeying out to the deserts of the Silk Road and visiting the spectacular ancient cities of Luoyang and Kaifeng, Kashgar and Xi’an, we hear tales of drama and creativity, triumph and tragedy. From the Mongols to the Opium War, and from the Boxer Rising to the Communist Revolution, Wood paints vivid pictures of some of the great characters of Chinese history - not just the emperors but scientists, poets, rebels and novelists. We meet the Buddhist traveller Xuanzang, the great woman poet Li Qingzhao, and the polymath Su Song - China’s Leonardo da Vinci. Later on we encounter the ruthless first emperor of the Ming, Hongwu, a former peasant and rebel who became one of the greatest figures in Chinese history. In the bars of north Beijing, Wood tracks the author of China’s most loved novel – Dream of the Red Chamber. He travels to Shaoxing to tell the story of the heroic, feminist poet and rebel Qiu Jin, and from Beijing to Yan’an to examine the still contested legacy of the man who propelled the Chinese communist revolution, Chairman Mao himself.

Along the way, the series brings to the screen the landscapes, peoples, and stories that have helped create China’s distinctive character and genius over more than four thousand years. And at every step, we experience the living culture of China, from intimate family celebrations, to vast communal rituals in the Yellow River plain, where millions gather to revere the ancient gods. We trace the crucial influence of the country’s deep-rooted civilizational ideas of order, ethics, the family and ancestors and see how throughout the cycles of Chinese history, things seem to fall apart but every time the state manages to come together again.

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