“They Shall Not Grow Old”
RELEASE DATE: February 1, 2019
MPAA RATING: R (for disturbing war images)
This fascinating documentary is bookended by personal remarks from director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings), who was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum to produce a film to commemorate the centennial of the end of the First World War. Jackson introduces the film, then invites the audience to remain after the final credits to watch a 30-minute behind-the-scenes look at the many components that went into the production.
And there were multiple components to this effort that conveys World War I from the perspective of British troops in rare, never-before-seen-footage of soldiers on the frontlines of the battle in Belgium. The film begins with black and white images, and then about 20 minutes in, the digitally remastered film is colorized, and dialogue of soldiers is heard since the footage had been studied by lip reading experts. This, along with the use of decades old voice-over narration from previous audio recordings of actual World War I veterans, really transports the audience to the battlegrounds as viewers wear 3D-glasses.
Jackson sifted through some 100 hours of footage, then had the film colorized and converted to 3D. As a World War I aficionado and owner of many memorabilia from that era, Jackson’s passion for the project results in a truly remarkable film. Many of the scenes are graphic and difficult to view, but are necessary to help tell the story and to leave one with the reminder that, indeed, war is Hell.