Cosmos: A Personal Voyage

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Cosmos: A Personal Voyage
Cosmos DVD cover
Picture format 4:3
Audio format Stereo
Episode duration 60 minutes
Creator(s) Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan & Steven Soter
Director Adrian Malone
Producer(s) Gregory Andorfer & Rob McCain
Presented by Carl Sagan
Music by Vangelis; various artists
Country of origin United States
Language(s) US English
First shown on PBS
Original run 28 September 1980–
21 December 1980
No. of episodes 13
Official website

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, with Sagan as global presenter. It was executive-produced by Adrian Malone, produced by David Kennard, Geoffrey Haines-Stiles and Gregory Andorfer, and directed by the producers and David Oyster, Richard Wells, Tom Weidlinger, and others. It covered a wide range of scientific subjects including the origin of life and a perspective of our place in the universe.

The series was first broadcast by the Public Broadcasting Service in 1980, and was the most widely watched series in the history of American public television until 1990's The Civil War. It is still the most widely watched PBS series in the world.[1] It won an Emmy and a Peabody Award and has since been broadcast in more than 60 countries and seen by over 600 million people, according to the Science Channel. A book to accompany the series was also published.


[edit] Overview

Cosmos was produced in 1978 and 1979 by Los Angeles PBS affiliate KCET on a roughly $6.3 million budget, with over $2 million additionally allocated to promotion. The show's format is based on previous BBC documentaries such as Kenneth Clark's Civilisation, Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man and David Attenborough's Life on Earth.[citation needed] (The BBC—a co-producer of Cosmos—repaid the compliment by screening the series, but episodes were cut to fit 50-minute slots and shown late at night.) However, unlike those series, which were shot entirely on film, Cosmos used videotape for interior scenes and special effects, with film being used for exteriors.

Sagan explains planetary orbits.

The series is notable for its groundbreaking use of special effects, which allowed Sagan to apparently walk through environments that were actually models rather than full-sized sets. The soundtrack included pieces of music provided by Greek composer Vangelis such as Alpha, Pulstar, and Heaven and Hell Part 1 (the last movement serving as the signature theme music for the show, and is directly referenced by the title of episode 4). Throughout the 13 hours of the series it used many tracks from several 1970s albums such as Albedo 0.39, Spiral, Ignacio, Beaubourg, and China. The worldwide success of the documentary series also put Vangelis' music in the homes and to the attention of a global audience.

Sagan in the series' final episode, "Who Speaks for Earth?"

Turner Home Entertainment purchased Cosmos from series producer KCET in 1989. In making the move to commercial television, the hour-long episodes were edited down to shorter lengths, and Sagan shot new epilogues for several episodes in which he discussed new discoveries (and alternate viewpoints) that had arisen since the original broadcast. Additionally, a 14th episode was added which consisted of an interview between Sagan and Ted Turner, and this "new" version of the series was eventually released as a VHS box set.

Cosmos had long been unavailable after its initial release because of copyright issues with the included music, but was released in 2000 on worldwide NTSC DVD, which includes subtitles in seven languages,[2] remastered 5.1 sound, as well as an alternate music and sound effects track. In 2005 The Science Channel rebroadcast the series for its 25th anniversary with updated computer graphics, film footage, and digital sound. Despite being shown again on the Science channel, the total amount of time for the original 13 episodes (780 minutes) was reduced 25% to 585 minutes (45 minutes per episode) in order to make room for commercials[3].

While Sagan was outspoken about political issues in this series and elsewhere, the popular perception of his characterization of large cosmic quantities was that of a sense of wonderment at the vastness of space and time. His famous saying at the start of Episode 8: Journeys in Space and Time "The total number of stars in the Universe is larger than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the planet Earth" was widely misunderstood, as he was in fact referring to the world being at a "critical branch point in history where our actions will propagate down through the centuries". He stated at the end of Episode 8: Journeys in Space and Time

"Those worlds in space are as countless as all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the earth. Each of those worlds is as real as ours and every one of them is a succession of incidents, events, occurrences which influence its future. Countless worlds, numberless moments, an immensity of space and time. And our small planet at this moment, here we face a critical branch point in history. What we do with our world, right now, will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants. It is well within our power to destroy our civilization and perhaps our species as well."

[edit] Episodes

[edit] Episode 1: "The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean"

[edit] Episode 2: "One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue"

[edit] Episode 3: "The Harmony of the Worlds"

[edit] Episode 4: "Heaven and Hell"

[edit] Episode 5: "Blues for a Red Planet"

Dr. Sagan with a full scale model of the Viking lander in Death Valley

[edit] Episode 6: "Travellers' Tales"

[edit] Episode 7: "The Backbone of Night"

[edit] Episode 8: "Journeys in Space and Time"

[edit] Episode 9: "The Lives of the Stars"

[edit] Episode 10: "The Edge of Forever"

Sagan at the Very Large Array
A 3D projection of an 8-cell performing a simple rotation about a plane which bisects the figure from front-left to back-right and top to bottom.

[edit] Episode 11: "The Persistence of Memory"

[edit] Episode 12: "Encyclopaedia Galactica"

[edit] Episode 13: "Who Speaks for Earth?"

  • 1. Opening
  • 2. Tlingit and Aztec Indians
  • 3. Who Speaks for Earth?
    • Sagan's vision (told as a dream) of traveling to a far distant world, only to return to find that the human race had long since been destroyed by nuclear warfare
  • 4. Nuclear War and Balance of Terror
  • 5. Alexandrian Library
  • 6. Hypatia
  • 7. Big Bang and the Stuff of Life
    • The beginning of the universe and good endeavors of our civilization
  • 8. Evolution of Life
  • 9. Star Stuff
  • 10. What Humans Have Done
  • 11. We Speak for Earth
    • Sagan's plea to cherish life and continue our journey to the cosmos
  • 12. Cosmos Update 10 years later

[edit] Episode 14: "Ted Turner Interviews Dr. Sagan"

Some versions of the series including the first North American home video release included a specially made 14th episode, which consisted of an hour-long interview between Sagan and Ted Turner,[4] in which the two discussed the series and new discoveries in the years since its first broadcast. This unique episode was not included in the DVD release.

[edit] Episode name spelling discrepancies

There are differences in episode names and spellings for Episode 6, 8 and 12 depending on the type of media. (7 NTSC DVDs, Fully International version - DVD region zero, ISBN 0-9703511-1-9)

Episode # Opening sequence DVD menu printed on DVD printed on box Cosmos books
Ep. 6 Travellers' Tales Travelers' Tales Travellers' Tales Travellers' Tales Travelers' Tales
Ep. 8 Journeys in Space and Time Travels in Space and Time Travels in Space and Time Travels in Space and Time Travels in Space and Time
Ep. 12 Encyclopaedia Galactica Encyclopaedia Galactica Encyclopedia Galactica Encyclopedia Galactica Encyclopaedia Galactica
  • An Australia/New Zealand DVD version has printed Encyclopedia Gallactica on the box and the DVD sleeve.

[edit] Music of Cosmos

Some of the music from the television series was compiled on CD:

[edit] Cosmos, a special edition

TV program logo of Cosmos special edition

The 1986 special edition of Cosmos is distinctive in many ways. It featured new narration by and filmed segments with Sagan, including content from Sagan's book Comet and discussion of his theory of nuclear winter (none of which was used in subsequent television or home video releases.) The series is much shorter than the original, running four and a half hours. It premiered as one marathon program on the TBS network and has been repeated as six episodes each about 45 minutes in length:

  1. Other Worlds part 1
  2. Other Worlds part 2
  3. Children of the Stars part 1
  4. Children of the Stars part 2
  5. Message from the Sky part 1
  6. Message from the Sky part 2

Visually, the series uses several of the historic sequences and animations from the original series, but interweaved are also new computer animated sequences and additional scenes with host Carl Sagan. As known today, the special edition version was at least broadcast in the United States, Japan, Germany, and Australia.

This version of Cosmos contains a mix of music used in the original series, together with a unique score by Vangelis, composed specially for this series. This score in some sources is also referred to as "Comet", with "Comet 16" acting as the title and ending theme of each episode. "Comet 16" is the only one of the total 21 cues that has officially been released. Some of the new music also appears in the 2000 remastered DVD release.

[edit] References

  1. ^ According to The Science Channel.
  2. ^ English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese
  3. ^ Some of the missing scenes from Cosmos episode 2
  4. ^ Alice Day, New York Times

[edit] External links

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