They Shall Not Grow Old

They Shall Not Grow Old

2018 | Peter Jackson

A documentary about World War I with never-before-seen footage to commemorate the centennial of the end of the war.

Average rating   10 out of 10

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Mark Bladt     2020-11-23 10 out of 10

An amazing piece of work by Mr. Jackson.

In 1918 Peter Jackson in cooperation with the Imperial War Museum created this documentary.

“They shall not grow old” is a documentary describing the daily life, the human side, and the horrors of one of the greatest tragedies in human history. The tragedy and mass murder known as World War One.

The story is told through a combination of voiceover by veterans who experienced the war, old black and white footage, and painstakingly restored and colorized footage. This combination of footage and voice over brings the war awfully close to the viewer. Lipreading has helped the production team do a perfect voice over to the footage of the soldiers. The original footage was of course silent, but as it says in the trailer “The people who experienced it did not live in a silent, black and white world”.

All these factors, the colors, the voice over and more brings the soldiers and the conflict to life and gives you a feeling of knowing the soldiers.

You hear the veterans talk about their life as soldiers, how they joined the British army as young as seventeen, sixteen and even fifteen years of age, how they trained, how they became friends, how they survived the hardships of life in the nightmarish trenches and how they coped with losing their friends. This makes it even more heartbreaking when you see the young men blown to bits, mauled and killed or when you hear the pain in their voices. This movie is not for the squeamish since we see lots of death and lots of wounds like headshots, frostbites and trenchfoot.

Technically the work Peter Jackson and his team put into this is nothing short of impressive. The had hundreds of hours of footage to work with. One of the first things they had to do was fix the speed problem. Many of the old recordings where jumpy and had an unrealistic speed. Next they had to color correct every single frame. To recreate the colors of the uniforms and tanks etc. they used the materials in the Imperial War museum. Looking at real uniforms and using those to get the colors exactly right. When recreating the sounds of WWI artillery, they fired real artillery from that era and used those sounds. After those processes where finished they ended up with footage that looks and sounds not 100 years old or even 50 years old. It is incredible to see what they did.

I love the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, but “They shall not grow old” is the greatest Peter Jackson film project I have seen. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking. It is stunningly beautiful and deeply touching. It is a must see movie that was clearly done with great love and respect for a lost generation that never grew old.

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