They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)

R   |    |  Documentary, History, War

They Shall Not Grow Old (2018) Poster

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

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  • They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
  • They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
  • They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
  • They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
  • They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
  • They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)

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17 October 2018 | jpsgranville
| Giving the Tommies a voice
Jackson's remarkable looking documentary is an amalgam of archive footage (much of it originally staged for the 1916 film 'The Battle of the Somme'), with only a tiny amount of actual battle footage given the early nature of film cameras in those days, plus the more moving sight of several of the soldiers staring and smiling into camera, and thanks to skillful lip-reading, speaking through interpreted voices.

The slowing down to our standard 24fps and adding of voices is beautifully touching. I personally don't know if it was essential to colourise as some of the greys in the originals are still visible, when uncolourised black and white footage is still just as immediate (the irony is that so many war films nowadays are drained of colour anyway.) Nonetheless, it is a vivid impression of life on the Western Front that Jackson helps to create, and remains refreshingly objective to its time, reflecting the general pro-war feelings at the beginning in 1914, and through carefully selected testimonies of the many hundreds of soldiers, unfolds the story of a kind of war that had never been seen before, or hopefully never will be again. Sadly humanity never learns its lesson, as the "war to end all wars" is now better known as World War I - all the more reason for history to remind us.

You watch this film, and in some of its more harrowing scenes you can see all the visual influence that Jackson drew upon for his Lord of the Rings trilogy. He dedicated this film to his grandfather who served in the war, and watching it , on the day after my own great grandfather's birthday (who also served in WWI), it was a thought provoking moment that stayed with me for a few hours after.

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