Monday, March 9, 2009

Hannibal the Annihilator

The History Channel's new series BATTLES BC started off with a bang, covering the campaigns of Hannibal of Carthage against Rome in the Second Punic War.

I am writing a novel about Carthage, so I know a lot about this period of history. I had concerns about the graphic novel format and whether the Carthaginians would be portrayed as some kind of decadent freaks, as the Persians were in The 300. Battles BC exceeded my expectations in that regard.

The show accurately portrayed the build-up to the war, Hannibal growing up in military camps in Spain, and the types of units in both armies. The elephants were shown accurately, with a rider and archer, they were not heavily armored with battle towers as they have sometimes been depicted.

The episode covered the main battles of the war, all of them Carthaginian victories. The comparison of Hannibal to Robert E. Lee was a good one since that Hannibal won most of the battles, but lost the war against an enemy with superior resources and manpower.

The Hannibal character was excellent, I liked the fact that he was clearly portrayed as African. He did not have enough armor though, he looked a bit like a gladiator. The action sequences emphasized Hannibal's physical leadership, but the commentators were able to capture a sense of his intelligence in their descriptions of the battles. Portraying Hannibal's blind eye as uncovered was a nice touch that made the character more intimidating.

Overall a good show, I hope future episodes are done as well.