About The Films

Magna Carta may be an 800-year-old piece of parchment, but today many people think that it is more relevant than ever. It spelt out the rights of citizens and the limits to a government's power over them. With the expansion of government in the last hundred years, and political decisions affecting every part of our lives, do we need to look again at what this old parchment can tell us?

To explore citizenship questions like these, and to chart the history of Magna Carta—how it arose, what its immediate and enduring effects were—the Adam Smith Institute has teamed up with award-winning documentary makers WAG TV to produce two 50-minute documentaries on the charter and its relevance today. They feature world experts: lawyers like US and UK supreme court justices, distinguished historians, librarians in charge of conserving the documents themselves, and policy commentators from both sides of the Atlantic. And yet they are made to be engaging and entertaining as well as challenging and informative. That may be why they won a top award at the 2017 Anthem Film Festival.

The documentaries have been split into short teaching modules, from three to seven minutes in length, to help teachers introduce the key historical and citizenship questions raised by Magna Carta. This allows students to assess for themselves if and how the principles enshrined in this ancient document are relevant to our lives today. Is it, as one historian claims, "the most important document in the history of the world"?

We are grateful to the John Templeton Foundation for its support of this project.