First Western Access to the Exploration of Emperor’s Tomb Proves Legendary Tales True
THE FIRST EMPEROR: THE MAN WHO MADE CHINA follows the first emperor of China’s legendary rise, reign and fall, and employs cutting edge science to unlock the secrets of his tomb. The emperor, Chin Shi Huang Di, is compared to Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar for commanding millions, uniting China and building the Great Wall. Though revered in the East, most westerners have had little knowledge of the great warrior, until now. The Discovery Channel transports viewers to ancient China, bringing the Emperor’s story to life on Chinese New Year 2006, Sunday, January 29, 9-11 PM ET/PT.
Filmed on location in China, THE FIRST EMPEROR: THE MAN WHO MADE CHINA marks unprecedented access for a western film crew to Emperor Chin’s legendary seven square mile underground burial complex. Filled with more than 8,000 figures, including the terracotta army of soldiers, the Emperor designed it to celebrate his political and military power, and to achieve continued glory in the afterlife. Two thousand years after his death, ground-penetrating radar combined with CGI illustrate the shape, layout and design of the largest unopened tomb in the world, revealed on-screen for the first time. The special also proves true the legend that Emperor Chin was buried amid a map of his empire flowing with rivers of liquid mercury, which at the time was believed to prolong life.
“Discovery Channel’s first-time access to the exploration of the largest unopened tomb in history, combined with vivid dramatizations using the actors, costumes and sets of China’s feature film industry, transports the viewer to ancient China, immersing them in the emperor’s renowned tale,” says Jane Root, EVP and GM of Discovery Channel, Science Channel and Military Channel. “Once viewers learn of his unparalleled achievement, exceptional aggression and lethal obsession with immortality, they will wonder why he was never included in their high school history lessons.”
Emperor Chin’s achievements are astounding -- he was the first to unite China, abolished its feudalist past, gave the country its name, and commanded ten times as many subjects as the Pharaohs of Egypt. He created a single written language, was architect of the Great Wall, commanded the creation of the first road system, and planned and built the world’s biggest and most extravagant resting place.
THE FIRST EMPEROR: THE MAN WHO MADE CHINA reveals that the warrior king was also a brutal tyrant who achieved his overwhelming power by destroying all opposition, both on the battlefield and in his own palace, where he survived repeated assassination attempts. As he became more and more powerful, Chin was said to have consumed mercury in increasingly-large doses, hoping to extend his life.
But could the substance have had the opposite effect and driven him mad, or worse, killed him? While Emperor Chin’s powerful empire outlasted Rome by a thousand years, could his obsession with immortality have ultimately proven his downfall? The production team along with Dr. Jeffrey Riegel, Professor of Chinese at the University of California, Berkeley, investigates how the tomb itself can reveal the facts behind the legend.
Filmed in high definition, the special transports viewers to ancient China by filming at historic locales in China such as the Emperor’s burial complex, shooting scenes at Chinese film studios with full-size replica sets of imperial palaces, using CGI to recreate battle scenes with one million soldiers, and recreating the construction of the Great Wall of China, portraying the original pounded earth techniques.
· The Emperor’s burial complex covers seven square miles and the tomb itself is as large as a football field. It includes over 8,000 figures, with everything from the terracotta army, assembled to protect the emperor from his spiritual enemies, to musicians and court officials, full-scale pleasure gardens (complete with replica bronze birds), entertainers and acrobats.
· Skeletons of courtiers have recently been discovered – one is believed to be his eldest son, executed by his opponents shortly after the emperor’s death. The evidence: a crossbow bolt discovered embedded in the skull.
· Two thousand years after the Emperor’s death, archaeological exploration, including ground-penetrating radar, shows the actual shapes, layout, and design of various tomb structures inside the tomb mound, including the structure of the tomb itself buried beneath the pyramid and covered with millions of tons of earth. This is recreated for the film using cutting-edge computer graphics.
· For the first time, earth core samples are taken off the tomb mound and analyzed. The testing proves that there were rivers of mercury inside the tomb, laid out in the shape of a map of China. At the time, mercury was believed to prolong life.
· This film marks the first time a Western film crew was given access to film these extraordinary new discoveries.