They Shall Never Grow Old

“This is not a story of the First World War, it is not a historical story, it may not even be entirely accurate but it’s the memories of the men who fought – they’re just giving their impressions of what it was like to be a soldier.” ~ Peter Jackson

This amazing achievement chronicles World War I. This film’s title was inspired Laurence Binyon’s 1914 poem “For the Fallen” – “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.”

Peter Jackson’s documentary film They Shall Never Grow Old focuses on the basic life of a soldier on the Western front and was originally released in the UK in October 2018 broadcast then was broadcast on BBC Two on November 11, 2018. A special Fathom Events release in the U.S. occurred on December 17 and 27, 2018. This film marked the centenary of the First World War’s end.

Filmmakers establish the storylines and personal narratives using incredible black and white footage from this war then eventually expand to a full screen filled with the colorized version of the footage.

Using original footage from Imperial War Museums’ archive, filmmakers comb through hundreds of hours of footage and interviews to assemble a uniquely memorable one hour and 39-minute documentary that was colorized and converted into 3D (hopefully a 3D home video release is coming soon).

Filmmakers used various personal documents (letters, journals, etc.) in the voiceover work, which also required extensive lip-reading of the footage to dub in the dialogue. The addition of sound effects and voice acting help modernize this quality film without jolting viewers with technology from this age. Filmmakers even use illustrated stills and incredible sound for the intense war sequences.

The footage is modernized to match the standard 24 per second frame rate audiences see in current films, which was an incredible process only possible with new film technology and expert filmmakers.

The visuals speak a thousand word as war veteran subjects pour out their hearts in the audio dialogue throughout this incredible work, which took many hours for filmmakers to synthesize and optimize for this film’s purposes.

The only thing that really did annoy me was when I went back to work, after I got demobilized, I went down to the stores, and the bloke behind the counter was a bloke who I knew. He said “Where have you been? On nights?”

Filmmakers did not identify the soldiers plus they edited out places and dates. These decisions result in a more accessible, simplified film for everyone as the emotional actions take the main stage in the audience’s hearts.

The New Zealand trio Plan 9 (David Donaldson, Steve Roche, and Janet Roddick) provides the film’s musical score and the closing credits song “Mademoiselle from Armentières” was very popular during WWI. Jackson co-dedicated this film to his grandfather who fought in this war.

Hopefully, the successful results will provide the catalyst for many more historical films like this treasure. Highly recommended (**** out of four stars) and rated R for disturbing war images.

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