Film brings World War I into focus

Filmmakers used today's technology to sharpen old footage.
Filmmakers used today's technology to sharpen old footage.
Copyrighted image: Imperial War Museum.
The movie industry was new and exciting – if primitive and unpolished – in 1914 when World War I began.

    Old footage appears in scratchy black-and-white, with figures moving in jerky spasms, a product of hand-cranked cameras. But in a new documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, filmmakers use their formidable talents and technology to transform that old film into a watchable 99 minutes that bring the war into focus.
    The documentary was directed, produced and nurtured by Peter Jackson, known for the stunning trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Beyond being an Oscar-award winning director, he is a collector of World War I memorabilia and the grandson of a veteran of the Great War. The  archives of the Imperial War Museum in London provided the footage, some of which had not been seen before.
   Jackson's team took that footage and reworked it so that the soldiers are shown moving at a natural speed. Lip readers were called upon to untangle what the soldiers were saying, and actors recorded the words. The grainy and, in some cases, dark film was restored and colorized.
    They Shall Not Grow Old does not present a timeline of the war's progression across the globe. It does not center exclusively on any one battle or campaign and omits the sea or air battles. It is about the experience of the soldiers on the front lines -- a point of view sharpened by modern technology. Filmgoers hear the voices of the war not just through the lip-read dialog of the men onscreen but also through recorded interviews of World War I veterans who talked to BBC and the Imperial War Museum.
      And so, a century after the war concluded, we see it in vivid detail. Men line up in droves to join the army. Soldiers receive a uniform -- the only thing they would wear for four years. They fight in the trenches and live in the trenches, even after flooding. In the end, many of them die  in the trenches. 
     This documentary should not be missed.


     How the first world war got its name

     100 years ago: 5 reasons World War I started

     World War I, Day One: July 28, 1914

      Like us on Facebook  and tell us what you think.