They Shall Not Grow Old
Prepare to have what you expect from a documentary redefined. There is no documentary experience on the scale of this one. Peter Jackson, with his film, ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ has changed the medium. I will say right now, before the review, see this movie on December 27th when Fathom Events will be presenting it across the U.S.A.
We can start with the 3D aspects of this film, when speaking about what makes it different. It brought the soldiers to life and for most of the movie the viewer is marching with and viewing the other soldiers and trenches the way those soldiers did.
Jackson took over 100 hours of archival film and turned it into 3D. He had to restore it, then make the speed correct before doing anything else. It is a masterful feat he undertook and it works. What he delivers is the story not of the war as much as the soldiers. We learn - excuse me, we experience - how they lived and fought. The mud. The lice. The dead. The wounded. The constant shelling. And the first tanks.
To demonstrate how far Jackson went to make this film standout, he hired lip readers to decipher what soldiers were saying in the silent historical footage and then he hired actors from the same regions to say the lines so that all you hear in the movie is the soldiers speaking. There are no historians or experts and narrators. Simply soldiers telling their tale.
Jackson also had 600 hours of audio from veterans. Take a moment and ponder what went into sifting through all that audio and video for this project. This is as close to World War 1 as a viewer will get.
To match the colors with the real thing, Jackson traveled to the sites in Europe and took pictures so they would see what shade of green the grass was and other specifics necessary to make this a great project.
A viewer learns a lot in this movie. I’ve read several books on World War 1 and still came away more educated than I was before. To me, that is always the mark of a good documentary.
Jackson is known for movies like ‘Lord Of The Rings’ and ‘King Kong’ so I would have never thought of him to head the helm on a project like this but someone knew what they were doing when they hired him. Jackson’s grandfather was in the war and suffered terribly so there was a personal stake in this project for him.
The 100th Anniversary of the end of the war is coming to a close. You couldn’t pay tribute any better than by watching this film. It will resonate with you long after the credits stop rolling. 5/5 on the ratings scale.