๐Ÿ“บ They Shall Not Grow Old

Watched 2018 documentary film directed by Peter Jackson by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

They Shall Not Grow Old is a 2018 documentary film directed and produced by Peter Jackson. The film was created using original footage of the First World War from the Imperial War Museum‘s archives, most previously unseen, all over 100 years old by the time of release. Audio is from BBC and Imperial War Museum (IWM) interviews of British servicemen who fought in the conflict. Most of the footage has been colourised and transformed with modern production techniques, with the addition of sound effects and voice acting to be more evocative and feel closer to the soldiers’ actual experiences.

Source: They Shall Not Grow Old by Wikipedia

They Shall Not Grow Old is documentary that ties together voices from the war with archival film and images from World War One. It was co-commissioned by 14โ€“18 NOW and Imperial War Museums in association with the BBC, with a copy sent to every school in the United Kingdom.

The film was directed by Peter Jackson. He used technology to bring new life to original footage from World War One, fixing up the inconsistencies with the rates per minute and adding colour. There are also moments when actors have been brought in to add voice to the silent film with the scripts produced by professional lip readers who watched the archival material.

As a narrative, it begins with the build-up to war and the excitement about enlisting, even if you were not officially old enough. It then recounts the training for soldiers and the journey to Europe and the trenches. We are given an insight into life in the trenches, including the maze like structure, how you rested where you were, the food eaten, such as bread, bacon, biscuits and bully beef, where people went to the toilet, and how soldiers dealt with infestations of lice and rats. This is contrasted with constant shelling, gas attacks, and the chaos of going over the top to take an enemy line. It then ends with armistice and the neglected and misunderstood life of the returned serviceman.

Overall, the film ties together different facets of war into an odd narrative about the western front that seemingly existed for so many, but for no-one in particular. I think that it is telling how much material was reviewed for the project.

The crew reviewed 600 hours of interviews from 200 veterans and 100 hours of original film footage to make the film.

Source: They Shall Not Grow Old by Wikipedia

Although there has been a lot of praise for the film.

Jackson has done something quite remarkable: using 21st-century technology to put the humanity back into old movie stock.

Source: They Shall Not Grow Old review โ€“ an utterly breathtaking journey into the trenches by Mark Kermode

There are also some who think that we need to be mindful of the choices made and the act of history making.

But the colourisation combined with the selective source base, the implicit narrative making and the critical response that suggests that this is somehow more โ€œauthenticโ€ history, is problematic. Some reviewers seem unable to distinguish fiction from reality: โ€œNo Lord of the Rings battle could match the sheer hellishness of what the filmmaker recreates here,โ€ writes one.

What does this process of modernisation and the addition of colour and sound, which Jackson advocates for wider usage across historical archives, do for our understanding of the past? On Armistice Day, we should encourage people to watch this film โ€“ not just for its World War I history, but as a good opportunity to think about history making.

Source: They Shall Not Grow Old: World War I film a masterpiece of skill and artistry โ€“ just donโ€™t call it a documentary by Alice Kelly

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