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The Machine That Made Us (2008)

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The printing press was the world’s first piece of mass-production technology. Its invention changed the world as dramatically as splitting the atom or sending men into space. It ignited a cultural revolution which shaped the modern age. It changed the way our brains work, replacing a spoken culture with a written one. It is the machine that made us who we are today.

In this film, Stephen Fry goes on a journey to explore the story of the machine, and of the man who created it: Johann Gutenberg. He travels through the heartland of the printing revolution, exploring the political and religious turmoil which shaped Gutenberg’s world: a world of visionary inventors, greedy investors, crafty bishops and inspired craftsmen. Combining historical enquiry with hands-on craft and technology, Stephen gathers a team to help him build a copy of the printing press. As he grapples with the same problems faced by his 15th Century predecessors, Stephen demonstrates the brilliance of Gutenberg’s invention and brings the man and his machine to life.

This is not a traditional history documentary. At its centre is the story of Stephen’s modern-day journey of discovery – a journey which derives its energy and momentum from his fascination for the subject and his infectious hunger for new information.

Directors: Patrick McGrady
Producers: Martin Davidson, Astrid Heidenreich, Patrick McGrady, Lucy Ward
Runtime: 59mn
Country: UK
Language: English