Lord of the Rings director and World War 1 aficionado, Peter Jackson, restores and revitalizes World War 1 footage.
In his new documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, Jackson updates archival footage with modern technology - transforming the colorless, muted images into a vibrant, visceral experience. The documentary transcends time, smoothing out the scratchiness from old cameras with 21st century technology. Jackson colorized the archive footage, sped up the frames in real-time, and used forensic lip-readers and actors to dub over what the soldiers were saying. All of this gives the effect of current footage from 100 years ago.
They Shall Not Grow Old is not just for U.S. History buffs (although they will certainly enjoy it). Teachers have been taking students to viewings as well. One student noted how shocking it was to see the soldier, “laughing one minute together and then to see them dead the next. It was devastating and really brought home to me like nothing else the brutality of WWI." One teacher remarked on his students’ perception saying, “"They were in awe when the colour kicked in and the screen expanded. You should have seen the look on their faces. I had to say to them, 'This is not acting, that's real people.'”
Students, teachers, and even reviewers agree They Shall Not Grow Old is a must-see for anyone interested in U.S. History or World War 1. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian said, "Peter Jackson has created a visually staggering thought experiment; an immersive deep-dive into what it was like for ordinary British soldiers on the western front. The effect is electrifying. The soldiers are returned to an eerie, hyper-real kind of life in front of our eyes, like ghosts or figures summoned up in a seance. The faces are unforgettable."
While initially given a limited release, audiences have been so taken aback and interested in reliving the documentary again and again that it will now be released for regular screenings in almost 500 theaters in North America. You can see what all the talk is about as of Friday, Feb. 1, when They Shall Not Grow Old is re-released.
Watch the trailer here!
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