3 ways to explore foreign lands without leaving your living room
So while I was travelling in Israel in May I got sick (stomach stuff) and was confined to my room for the last 3 days of the trip. Needless to say, the hotel had good internet connection and access to some great shows that I proceeded to binge-watch. (These were all available on Netflix in Israel, but I've noticed some are now not available in Canada. Not sure what's with that, seeing as one of them is a Canadian-made show, but anyways, you can definitely access the following shows/docs in Canada if you tried.)
These shows and documentaries stand out because they capture a time or place perfectly – and depict history in an entertaining, interesting, and honest light.
- The Propaganda Game explores the use of propaganda by the North Korean government and the sense of deep nationalist pride instilled in its citizens. Directed by Alvaro Longoria, the doc follows the film crew through parts of North Korea, always accompanied by their tour guides. It is unclear whether the Korea we are shown is the same one that exists without the cameras. The doc reveals some unsettling findings, but is undoubtedly a unique portrayal of the elusive country.
- Versailles is a Canadian BBC period drama (not a doc) about Louis the 14th, the Sun King, in 17th century France. It starts as he pushes for a palace in Versailles, his father's previous hunting castle. The show centres around moving the government and noblemen to the unfinished Versailles, as plots of treason develop to overthrow or undermine the king. The costumes, elaborate set, and attention to detail are mostly accurate in terms of attitudes and behaviours at the time. Many of the characters and plots were plucked from historical events.
- The Keepers is not one that would normally fit the bill for "history" docu-series – but after thinking about it for a while, this makes sense. It focuses on abuse that occurred in the late 1960s (and as we would later discover, as early as 1967). The docu-series explains the religious context of Baltimore at that time, which allows viewers to fully understand the history, as well as how such abuse (and a homicide) could go undetected and unpunished. Whether you want the history and detailed background or not, The Keepers unravels a comprehensive and intricate web of a city's tarnished past.