They Shall Not Grow Old: Peter Jackson Brings First World War To Life With Poignant Restored Footage

Award winning director Peter Jackson has brought the reality of the First World War to life for a new documentary.

The Lord of the Rings director has digitally remastered archive black and white footage from the conflict to give it colour and sound.

Commissioned by the Imperial War Museum, which gave Jackson access to 600 hours of tape, the documentary, called They Shall Not Grow Old, shows what life was like on the Western Front.

Digitally remastered

He used “computer power to erase the technical limitations” of the 100-year-old footage to “see and hear the Great War as they experienced it”.

The 90-minute documentary, marks the centenary of the war which took place between 1914 and 1918 and is narrated with interviews from 120 veterans from 600 clips recorded by the BBC in 1964.

Mr Jackson, who has won three Oscars, spent four years working on the documentary was inspired by his life-long interest in the conflict in which his grandfather served in the British Army.

Peter Jackson spent four years painstakingly restoring the footage (Bolton & Quinn Ltd/PA Wire)
Peter Jackson spent four years painstakingly restoring the footage (Bolton & Quinn Ltd/PA Wire)

He also travelled to Flanders and France taking photos of the former battlefields and said he hoped the remastered footage would help keep alive the memory of the millions who lost their lives.

He told Sky News: “There’s been lots of documentaries made on the First World War… and I just decided for this one to strictly just use the voices of the guys that fought there.

“I wanted to reach through the fog of time and pull these men into the modern world, so they can regain their humanity once more – rather than be seen only as Charlie Chaplin-type figures in the vintage archive film.

Lest We Forget

“You don’t really notice them when they were all sped up and jerky, but suddenly they just come into a focus.

“Part of my fascination with the First World War is that it was a pointless war in that sense. Because it was a pointless war, it is all about the people who were in it. How did these people actually cope with this thing?

“Not one soldier on the Western Front, I guarantee you, not one soldier could sit down and really explain in political terms what was important about fighting the war, what was important about beating the Germans.

Jackson is best known as the director of the Lord of the Rings movies (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Jackson is best known as the director of the Lord of the Rings movies (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

“It’s not the story of the war. It’s the story of the human experience of fighting in the war.”

They Shall Not Grow Old will make its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival on Tuesday October 16 which will be attended by the Duke of Cambridge, and will be followed by a Q&A with Jackson.

The film will also be simultaneously screened in 250 cinemas around the UK and is scheduled to air on the BBC on Armistice Day, November 11.

Source : https://inews.co.uk/news/oscar-winning-director-peter-jackson-archive-footage-first-world-war/

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