I’ve watched a few documentaries in my day, but I never paid movie theater price to see one… Until now! If you get a chance, go to the theater to see “They Shall Not Grow Old”. It is worth the price of admission.
Peter Jackson did a great service to the men who fought in World War I in producing and directing this film. What I learned about the war in history class and other films doesn’t compare to what I learned from this movie.
Hearing the stories from the soldiers themselves, and seeing the images as clear as if it was filmed with modern equipment stands out and shows the real horror, and sheer bravery, of the men who fought in this war.
The technology used by Jackson not only colorized the footage, but also turned 2D to 3D. Some of it was footage never seen before, like bodies sinking in the mud and much of the trenches, rats crawling everywhere, “trenchfoot” and other wounds. I know it sounds gross, but this isn’t a Friday the 13th remake. This actually happened to men as young as 16.
It was funny how Wonder Woman brought World War I to the silver screen recently, even movies like Flyboys or classics like Goodbye Mr. Chips and All Quiet on the Western Front. These movies showed the war from a film perspective but without the realism that a documentary. What made Jackson’s film different is the great work his crew did in cleaning up, colorizing and turning 2D to 3D. They even added sound effects and people talking as if it was footage taken today. It made the war real for me, 100 years after it happened.
Watching this documentary reminded me of the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg went out to make the Normandy landing real for those watching the movie, shooting with hand-held cameras and really showing the horror of war. I saw that in this movie, but it wasn’t done through special effects. It was real.
To hear the men who fought in this war talk about the training they went through, the day-to-day life in the trenches, even their off-duty time in France was a great way to tell the story. It was scary to hear how, on the last push against the German line, the British soldiers readied themselves in the trenches and they had guns in front of them, and guns behind them (aimed by their officers, ensuring they would charge across the field).
We need every school child watch this movie. It needs to become a teaching tool for educators to teach about World War I, about what these men went through and what happened when they got home. I always though that those who served in Vietnam were forgotten heroes, but so were the men who returned to England after World War I. It’s sad that anyone who volunteered to serve their country should be treated that way.
This is a FIVE STAR documentary and I highly recommend you see it in the theater if you have the chance. You won’t regret it.
Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.