Great Continental Railway Journeys Series 7

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Travel Documentary hosted by Michael Portillo, published by BBC in 2020 - English narration

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Image: Great-Continental-Railway-Journeys-Series-7-Cover.jpg

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Michael Portillo travels on the great train routes of Europe, as he retraces the journeys featured in George Bradshaw's 1936 Continental Railway Guide.

[edit] Salamanca to Canfranc

Michael Portillo sports a strikingly modern edition of his Bradshaw's Continental Handbook, dated 1936. His destination lies close to his heart: the ancient kingdom of Spain and land of his father, recommended in Michael's guidebook for its exceptional climate and glorious history. 1936 was a turbulent time in Spain, with political upheaval descending into a brutal civil war. Michael begins an emotional rail journey, which takes him deep into his family's past and reveals the tentacles of the regime which forced his father into exile. Michael begins in the beautiful golden city of Salamanca, where his father was happy as a young, left-wing professor. He visits the university to hear of opposition to the fascist takeover of Spain by General Francisco Franco and gains access to the general's archive of enemies of the state. In the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, Michael hears how the bombing of a small town in the Basque region in 1937 inspired one of the 20th century's most shocking works of art. Zaragoza's modern tram network takes Michael to a factory, where he is invited to test-drive new rolling stock destined for Britain. In the shadow of the city's splendid cathedral, Michael learns to dance the jota. In the northern town of Huesca, Michael meets the son of author George Orwell, who fought against Franco on what was the front line during the Civil War between Nationalist and Republican forces. Together, they visit the preserved trenches, and Michael finds out how Orwell's experiences shaped his novels. Michael's final stop is on the border with France at Canfranc station. At the time of his guidebook, it was a magnificent terminus, yet today it is ruined and derelict. Michael learns of the role it played in the evacuation of Jews during the Second World War and hears about its forthcoming new lease of life.

[edit] Orleans to Reims

Michael Portillo travels from the chateaux of the Loire Valley to the heart of the Champagne region at Reims. Beginning in historic Orleans, Michael follows his Bradshaw's guide to the magnificent stained-glass windows of the Cathedral of Sainte-Croix, which tell the story of the heroine of France, Joan of Arc. The image of the saintly teenage warrior endures as a symbol of resistance, and her life is celebrated in an annual parade. Michael meets her modern-day incarnation. Among the spectacular Renaissance palaces and fortresses of the River Loire, Michael is intrigued to discover a castle much modernized during the 1930s, which became a refuge for a British royal couple embroiled in scandal. The wedding of the former king, Edward VIII, and the American divorcee Wallis Simpson at Chateau Cande in the summer of 1937 was shunned by the British establishment. Michael takes a spin around the track at Le Mans in a French-built car that won two endurance races during the 1920s. At Versailles, Michael visits the opulent palace and neighbouring Trianon Palace Hotel, where his Bradshaw's guide describes the signing of the Peace Treaty at the end of the First World War. Arriving in the capital, Paris, Michael heads for Montparnasse, where wildly creative artists and writers of the 1920s and 30s spawned new art movements. Michael joins a life-drawing class at an art school with an impressive legacy. Backstage at the Folies Bergere, Michael asks the 'enfant terrible' of fashion Jean Paul Gaultier about his homage to the black American dancer of the 1920s Josephine Baker. East of Paris in champagne country, Michael finishes his journey in style with a tour of the cellars at Domaine Pommery and a glass of fizz with the owner.

[edit] Berlin to Stuttgart

Michael Portillo embarks on a rail journey through Germany, steered by a Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide published in 1936. His unique window on Europe between the world wars takes him through a tumultuous period in German history, when the nation's first democracy and its vibrant culture of art, design and decadence were swept away by fascism, nationalism and the increasing likelihood of war. In a vast stadium, Michael hears how new rail lines were constructed to transport crowds of spectators to the Nazi Olympic Games of 1936. Michael learns how a planned boycott by the United States and other European nations failed and how the success of a black American athlete undermined the Nazi ideology of Aryan superiority. At the Museum of Modern Art in Berlin's Kreuzberg, Michael sees how a leading artist of the era, George Grosz, warned of the rise of fascism in a haunting self-portrait. Michael goes to the movies in Potsdam and discovers the success of the Babelsberg Studios, where directors such as Fritz Lang and stars such as Marlene Dietrich worked. He hears how production was taken over by the Nazis for propaganda. In the Sch̦neberg district of the capital, Michael researches the decadent night scene of the 1920s, where sexual freedoms attracted gay and lesbian visitors from across the world. Michael sees how cabaret culture is being revived today - a burlesque performance is on the bill. At the birthplace of German democracy in Weimar, Michael investigates the beginnings of Bauhaus design and visits the movement's first building Рa single-family house which went beyond a statement of style to present a vision of how people would live in the 20th century. Travelling with author Julia Boyd to Nuremberg, Michael discovers that during the 1930s, despite the First World War and the Third Reich, Britons and Americans loved Germany and German culture. Michael hears how one Briton above all was welcomed by Hitler to Germany - the Duke of Windsor, former King Edward VIII. In the medieval Bavarian city of Nuremberg, Michael visits the monumental buildings and parade grounds, which were the stage for vast Nazi rallies to publicise the regime around the world and arouse popular support at home. Michael finishes in Stuttgart, where an ambitious engineering project is under way, which will integrate the city into a high-speed train route connecting Paris with Bratislava. Michael bags a ride in a high-performance Porsche to the manufacturer's Stuttgart headquarters and discovers that in the 1930s, the founder designed an affordable car for mass production Рthe Beetle.

[edit] Palermo to Mt Etna

Michael Portillo's 1936 Bradshaw's Guide brings him to the Italian 'treasure island' of Sicily, full of natural beauty and 'scenery of the greatest charm'. But the interwar guide book also tells Michael that the head of government in Italy is the fascist leader Signor Benito Mussolini. On a railway journey from the capital, Palermo, through the ancient town of Agrigento and the port of Siracusa, to Europe's largest volcano, Mount Etna, Michael explores Sicilian life under the dictatorship. Michael finds out how the dictator took on the mafia and asks whether it is true that under Mussolini, the trains ran on time. In Palermo, Michael takes in the art and architecture of the futurists and feasts on a Sicilian speciality - spaghetti and sardines - in the city's Ballaro street market. In the Capo district, Michael learns how the island's distinctive puppets are made and is enchanted to see them in action. Among the spectacular ancient Greek and Roman temples of Agrigento, Michael hears of the passionate ten-year search by a British archaeologist at the time of his guide for a long-lost ancient Greek theatre. The drama of the interwar period comes to life in front of Michael's eyes as he joins six characters in search of an author at the Teatro Pirandello. Michael takes the helm to explore the port of Siracusa by boat before visiting a controversial monument, which depicts a dark chapter in Italian history. He concludes his Sicilian journey on the circular railway around Mount Etna, aboard the sleek, futurist-inspired train inaugurated by Mussolini in 1937 - La Littorina.

[edit] Linz to Bratislava

Michael Portillo travels by train through Austria and the Czech Republic, following his Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide, published in 1936. Michael's journey takes him through spectacular scenery, from the handsome Baroque buildings of the northern Austrian city of Linz, through Czech South Bohemia to Prague, the city of a hundred spires, and onto the canyons and caves of the Moravian Karst region near Brno. He finishes on the River Danube in the Slovakian capital, Bratislava. Along the way, Michael explores a dark era in European history, beginning with the return to Linz in 1938 of Adolf Hitler, who lived there as a boy. Beneath the balcony of the old town hall in the city's main square, Michael hears how cheering crowds welcomed the Fuhrer's announcement of the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany. At Prague Central Station, Michael meets 87-year-old Zuzana Maresova, who, as a seven-year-old girl, climbed aboard a train to travel to safety in London. She tells Michael she was among hundreds of Jewish children rescued from Czechoslovakia by British stockbroker Sir Nicholas Winton, as part of the Kindertransport. Czech gymnasts at the Sokol sports stadium in Ceske Budejovice put Michael's flexibility and balance to the test and explain how their mass movement inspired the Czech nation at the time of his guidebook. Michael joins the great grandson of artist Alphonse Mucha to hear how the father of art nouveau helped define Czech national identity in highly political paintings and designs for stamps and banknotes. A luxurious steel and glass villa designed in 1930 by the German architect Mies van der Rohe in a suburb of Brno is today a Unesco World Heritage Site. Michael discovers its history as a wedding present to a Jewish couple, who had to leave it to escape the Nazis. Michael's guidebook recommends a famous gorge, where he descends in a cable car to explore stalactite and stalagmite grottos deep in the subterranean river Punkva. Crossing the Czech border into Slovakia, Michael reaches his final destination, one of Europe's youngest capital cities, Bratislava.

[edit] Stockholm to the Arctic Circle

Michael Portillo embarks on a scenic, thousand-mile rail journey from the Swedish capital, Stockholm, to Abisko in the northern reaches of the Arctic Circle. Steered by his 1936 edition of Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide, Michael boards a steam train to celebrate Midsummer in Marielund, learns to decorate a Dala horse in Mora and takes an icy dip in one of the country's 96,000 lakes. In Stockholm, Michael braves a precarious tour of the city from its rooftops before boarding a heritage tram to get the lowdown on 1930s Sweden from an expert. At the capital's Royal Institute of Technology, Michael investigates the transport of the future in a near-vacuum tube. He tours Uppsala University and takes Sweden's 1,300km Inlandsbanan railway, which was completed in 1937, to travel north to Ostersund and Kiruna. Michael finishes deep in the Arctic Circle at a remote climate research station, where scientists are building on data recorded at the time his guidebook was published. En route, Michael learns why Sweden built the strategic inland railway on which he is travelling. He discovers how the nation created a welfare state, has lunch with traditional Sami people in Vilhelmina and checks into a chilly hotel made of ice.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: x265 CABAC Main@L4
  • Video Bitrate: CRF 21 (~2801Kbps)
  • Video Resolution: 1920x1080
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Frame Rate: 25 FPS
  • Audio Codec: AAC-LC
  • Audio Bitrate: 128Kbps CVBR 48KHz
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • Run-Time: 59 mins
  • Number Of Parts: 6
  • Part Size: 1.21 GB (average)
  • Source: HDTV
  • Encoded by: JungleBoy

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