They Shall Not Grow Old is an astounding Peter Jackson documentary that examines all aspects of World War I through recolorized century-old film. Through Jackson’s meticulous work to make this film look fresh, he depicts another side of humanity in a gritty war and presents a lighthearted ambiance with the stories of its participants
The film was only set for two showtimes originally on Dec. 17 and Dec. 27, but due to increased demand, a follow-up date was added on Jan. 21.
This documentary originally began because the Imperial War Museum partnered with 14-18 Now and wanted to create an artistic piece to celebrate the centennial of the war. They approached Peter Jackson because of his history with World War I. He previously worked on other war films and told the public about his history with the war—his grandfather was a soldier for the British army before the war and he served in this conflict for its duration.
The first half of the documentary was the original 4:3 box frame with black screen on all sides, and this half was only presented during the period before and after the war. However, the edited version of the film expanded to take the full screen with an adjusted frame to mark the start of the war. This version included a digital restoration, adjusted frame, colorization, and even a 3-D conversion. Along with that, the filmmakers looked through hundreds of hours of BBC recordings from the 1960s and 1970s of World War I veterans so the film was not consisted a traditional narrative; instead, this documentary narrates the story of war soldiers with actual veterans to bring more humanity to the picture.
The peak points of the documentary highlight the realistic nature between the soldiers. For example, the filmmakers got professional lip-readers to decipher what the soldiers were saying in the film and had actors repeat those lines.
Normally, documentaries highlight the grotesque nature of the war to bring appreciation for the work of the veterans. This film shows appreciation in a different light by making the story lighthearted and comedic at various times, which is shocking to the viewer because most people do not expect to laugh during a World War I documentary.
Overall, the film encapsulates audiences with a realistic and humane outlook. It gives a lighthearted and comedic side but also reflects on the characters of the war to give a clear example of what was going on during this time. It offers an interesting perspective because it’s able to focus on the details of the war, and the veterans themselves. They Shall Not Grow Old is a film that gives a clear picture of World War I, its significance on history and of the actions of the men who fought so bravely.