Segments in this Video

19th Century Technology (05:37)


Many technological advancements were viewed with suspicious and as an affront to God in the early 19th century. A painter captured the dramatic scene and fire produced by iron furnaces. Much of the machinery that allowed for the start of the Industrial Revolution in Britain was dangerous for workers.

Charles Babbage's Calculating Machine (05:50)

Inventor Charles Babbage wanted to find a more accurate way to calculate nautical charts, which the British navy used to navigate. He created a calculating engine to make accurate tables and charts. Many Victorians feared that Babbage was giving a God-given human power to a machine.

Archaeology and Religion (06:09)

In the 19th century, archaeologists began to discover and reconstruct fossilized dinosaur bones. The fossils went against how Christianity explained the universe.

The Leviathan Telescope (09:08)

Victorian astronomers believed nebulae were clouds of luminous gas that condensed to form stars and planets. The idea of evolutionary cosmology contradicted the Christian story of creation. The Leviathan telescope was built in the 1840s in Ireland to advance the study of the cosmos.

Invention of Astrophysics (06:28)

William Huggins invented tools that could be added to telescopes to display the spectrum of light from space. He and his wife, Margaret, were pioneers in the field of astrospectroscopy and astrophysics.

London's Sewage System (07:35)

In the 1858, the smell of the heavily polluted Thames River in London became so strong that Parliament voted to create a sewage system. The system used rotating beam engines that were powered by steam to pump the sewage 15 miles downstream.

Entropy in Victorian England (03:36)

Mathematician William Thomson realized that regardless of how efficient a machine was it would always have wasted energy. The Victorian mindset was that the amount of work that could be used to make a profit was on the decline.

H.G. Wells' Time Machine (08:19)

Science fiction writer H.G. Wells published "The Time Machine" in 1895. He and an electrics engineer named Robert Paul worked to create a device to simulate the experience of time travel.

Building the Time Machine (05:20)

As Paul worked to refine early film technology for the planned time travel experience, Wells was trying to find a way to add movement. The plan was to have the audience on moving platforms, surrounded by moving images.

Credits: Mechanical Monsters (03:52)

Credits: Mechanical Monsters

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Mechanical Monsters

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This film investigates the origins of our love-hate relationship with technology. Historian Simon Schaffer tells the stories behind some of the most extra-ordinary engineering wonders of the 19th century, including computers made from cogs and gears, giant replica dinosaurs, enormous telescopes, vast steam pumps and devices that herald the birth of cinema. Through stunning images of amazing machines, the documentary poses questions that still resonate today—will the machines we build save us, replace us or even destroy us?

Length: 63 minutes

Item#: BVL154332

ISBN: 978-1-64347-927-9

Copyright date: ©2018

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.