They Shall Not Grow Old (2018) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: A documentary about World War I with never-before-seen footage to commemorate the centennial of the end of the war.
Runtime: 99 min Release Date: 09 Nov 2018
"Trapped in a Charlie Chaplin World". So says director Peter Jackson in a post-screening discussion with Mark Kermode, describing early black and white documentary footage. Whereas modern film runs at 24 fps, most of the old footage is hand cranked, with speeds as low as 12 fps which leads to its jerky nature. Jackson in this project with the Imperial War Museum took their WW1 footage and put it through a 'pipeline process. This cleaned-up and restored the original footage; used clever computer interpolation to add in the missing 6 to 12 frames per second; and then colourised <more>
it.The results are outstanding. Jackson wisely focuses the film on the specific slice of WW1 action from the trenches. And those anonymous figures become real, live, breathing humans on screen. It is obviously tragic that some and as commented by Jackson, many in one scene are not to be breathing humans for much longer.These effects take a while to kick in. The early scenes in the documentary are in the original black and white, describing the recruitment process, and how many of the recruits were under-age. To explain the varied comments in the film, they should have been 18, although officially shouldn't have been sent overseas until 19 .It is when the troops arrive in France that we suddenly go from black-and-white to the fully restored and colourised footage, and it is a gasp-inducing moment.All of the audio commentary is from original BBC recordings of war veterans recounting their actual experiences in the trench. Some sound like heroes; some sound like rogues; all came out changed men. Supporting music of WW1 ditties, including the incredibly rude "Mademoiselle from Armentières" over the end credits, is provided by Plan 9.But equally impressive is the dubbing of the characters onscreen. Jackson employed forensic lip-readers to determine what the soldiers on-screen were saying, and reproduced the speech using appropriate regional accents for the regiments concerned. Jackson also recounts how the words associated with a "pep-talk" speech to troops by an officer he found on an original slip of paper within the regimental records: outstanding. Added sound effects include real-life shelling by the New Zealand army. It all adds to the overall atmosphere of the film.The film itself is a masterpiece of technical innovation that will change in the future the way in which we should be able to see this sort of early film footage forever. As a documentary it's near-perfection. But if I have a criticism of the cinema showing I attended it is that the 3D tended to detract rather than add to the film. Perhaps this is just my eyesight, but 3D always tends to make images slightly more blurry. Where like "Gravity" there are great 3D effects to showcase, it's worth the slight negative to get the massive positive. But here, there was no such benefit: 2D would have been better. For those in the UK and possibly through other broadcasters worldwide the film is being shown on BBC2 tonight 11/11/18 at 9:30: I will be watching it again to compare and contrast.Jackson dedicated the film to his grandfather. And almost all of us Brits will have relatives affected by this "war to end all wars". In my case, my grandfather was shot and severely wounded at Leuze Wood on the Somme, lying in the mud for four days and four nights before being recovered... by the Germans! Fortunately he was well-treated and, although dying young, recovered enough to father my father - else I wouldn't be here today writing this. On this Rememberance Sunday, 100 years on, it is a time for us to truly remember the sacrifice these men and boys gave to what, all in the film agree, was a pretty obstinate and pointless conflict.
An outstanding achievement on so many levels. (by markgorman)
It's only October and I have already seen two Oscar winning films. This for best documentary and A star is Born for loads of things.Months ago I bought a ticket for this special live 3D screening of this BFI film from the London Film Festival featuring a post film interview between Peter Jackson the most modest man in cinema and Mark Kermode the most adulatory I thought it would be special.It was more than that.It was a landmark.It was actually a significant night in cinematic history, because what Peter Jackson has achieved here is unparalleled.We've all seen colourised war <more>
footage. It's interesting, but in reality it's a bit pants.This is the real deal. A step forward in technology driven by heart, emotion, passion, DNA.In this truly remarkable documentary Jackson brings us footage from the WW1 front line trenches in a way that you can't even begin to imagine.First he restored hours of black and white footage to remove grain, scratches, burn marks etc.Then he graded it.Then he fixed all the film sprockets so they don't jiggle about and blur.Then, get this, he turned it all from a hotch-potch of 10/11/12/14/16 and 17 Frames per second into it all being 24 FPS.This is not insignificant.A 17 FPS film transferred to 24 frames needs to 'find' 7 frames. It needs to create them, to fill in the gaps to make film flow as we expect. How one does that I have no clue. Frankly, neither does Jackson, but he knows people who were up to it and deliver on the challenge.So, as Jackson puts it, we don't see Charlie Chaplinesque war footage. We see dignified film of soldiers in real time as our eye would compute it. This is important because it makes it so real.Then he, frame by frame, colourised the whole lot.Then he put a team of lip readers onto it to work out what the soldiers were saying when they spoke to camera in 1914-18 there was no film/sound recording .Then he recorded both battleground sound effects, by enlisting the NZ army, and the words these soldiers were saying, through actors, and lip synched and background-noised the whole thing.Then he launched it.The man is a genius.The result is beyond words incredible.On many occasions I gasped out loud, not least when he moved from the first reel, which shows unmodified footage of the preparation of enlistees for WWI, into the reality of war.In a stunning coup de theatre the screen changes shape.The audiences audibly gasps.We are in a new reality.Now, this all makes it sound like this is simply an exercise in technological show-offery.No. this focuses on soldiers. Poor. Young. Men.With terrible teeth, but with opinion, with humour, with dignity, with resolute spirit.And not just young British men.Perhaps the most affecting part of this film is where German POW's muck in and join the Brits. It's clear that in those days this was duty and honour for one's country, absolutely NOT hatred of the enemy.This is a truly remarkable film experience.It's important.Find a way of seeing it.It's much more than a cinematic landmark.It's a historical one, because the legacy Peter Jackson's 14-18-Now and Imperial War Museum commission gives the world is new technology that will allow all sorts of ancient film archives to become living history.In this case the 100 minutes that are committed to film are actually backed up by a further 100 hours of monochrome footage that Jackson's team has restored free of charge for his commissioners.See when international honours are handed out I think Bono has a knighthood for example Peter Jackson needs to be number one on the list for this real and important achievement.I assume a further Oscar is in the bag.
A harrowing new perspective on 'The great War' (by mattwidd)
I was lucky enough to bag a ticket to the one off showing of Peter Jackson's They Shall Not Grow Old, having watched a lot of World War One documentaries and made countless visits to historic sites across France and Belgium I was keen to see what was being marketed as a 'new' perspective on The Great War, it did not disappoint. Jackson chose to create a narrow focus narrative for this 1 hour 30 minute documentary to allow the viewer to delve into the fine details often missed in more sweeping documentaries trying to cover all aspects and areas of the conflict. Jackson chose to <more>
look closely at the lives and experiences of British native frontline troops in Belgium. The documentary follows a linear timeline beginning with the breakout of war and the initial volunteering of thousands of young men excited and ready for an adventure for King and Country and ends with the great sense of loss and uncertainty of the future the troops had by the end of the war. The entire documentary is narrated by records of surviving troops recorded in the 60s and 70s, this was an intentional move by Jackson that definitely adds to the ability for the viewer to connect and relate to the survivors. I especially found the stories and anecdotes about the goings on behind the lines during down time and R&R for the troops captivating as it is often over looked in other documentaries solely concentrating on the combat and horrors of war. The pain staking effort and lengths Jackson and his team went to to restore this footage not only with colour but with frame rate, sharpness and especially sound is breath taking. Taking the time to have professional lip readers painstakingly review all the footage so allow us to then know and hear what was being said truly brought the footage to life. My only issue with the film, something that is made note of by Jackson is of course because of the time in history and available cameras there is no actual combat footage available so you do spend a large amount of time just watching still hand drawn cartoons of the battles from the time, something that cannot be avoided but does detract from the immersion the rest of the film creates. I highly recommend this film to everyone, it is important we see the true perspective of what our ancestors went through and never forget these brave men and women.
Jackson's remarkable looking documentary is an amalgam of archive footage much of it originally staged for the 1916 film 'The Battle of the Somme' , with only a tiny amount of actual battle footage given the early nature of film cameras in those days, plus the more moving sight of several of the soldiers staring and smiling into camera, and thanks to skillful lip-reading, speaking through interpreted voices. The slowing down to our standard 24fps and adding of voices is beautifully touching. I personally don't know if it was essential to colourise as some of the greys in the <more>
originals are still visible, when uncolourised black and white footage is still just as immediate the irony is that so many war films nowadays are drained of colour anyway. Nonetheless, it is a vivid impression of life on the Western Front that Jackson helps to create, and remains refreshingly objective to its time, reflecting the general pro-war feelings at the beginning in 1914, and through carefully selected testimonies of the many hundreds of soldiers, unfolds the story of a kind of war that had never been seen before, or hopefully never will be again. Sadly humanity never learns its lesson, as the "war to end all wars" is now better known as World War I - all the more reason for history to remind us.You watch this film, and in some of its more harrowing scenes you can see all the visual influence that Jackson drew upon for his Lord of the Rings trilogy. He dedicated this film to his grandfather who served in the war, and watching it , on the day after my own great grandfather's birthday who also served in WWI , it was a thought provoking moment that stayed with me for a few hours after.
As an American, Jackson shows me what the Western World owes to the British soldier (by VoyagerMN1986)
To be sure, the French solder was brave, they faced the onslaught right into their country. The American WWI soldier was competent and the US played an important part in supplying the Allies and then in delivering the message that the Central Powers could not continue. The average German and central powers soldier had no choice in the matter. So, yes, this was a complex war like all wars. But there simply is no doubt that key factor in saving Europe in this war was the British solder. He was well trained, well equipped, stoically handled the challenges, and fought and won an extremely <more>
important war. Nowadays our kids are taught this war had no right and wrong side. That simply is not true. No matter how imperfect some aspects of the motives or poltical systems of the allies were, the choice was between enlightened forward looking democracies such as Britain and France, and eventually the US, and an utterly retrograde Germany. for Germany to have won and controlled Europe would have been a setback of huge proportions. In "They Shall Not Grow Old," Peter Jackson really brings the WWI Tommy to life with a nod to the professional British veteran solder at the beginning of the war that was worth ten German soldiers, to the entire generation of young, including very young solders that were the second echelon into the war but did the bulk of the fighting. The colorization and dubbing create a reality and presences that is in sharp contrast from the heretofore abstract and distant black and white soundless film clips that have until now have filtered and made that war less visceral, and less human Frankly not since Ken Burns "Civil War" has there been such innovation in war documentary
A deep and moving eulogy to the brave, persevering souls that laboured for our gain in the first World War 1914-1918 . In this fittingly sombre piece, delivered on the centennary of the "war to end all wars" by the talented Sir Peter Jackson, we are introduced to the motions of a soldier in his daily life on the front. We are given a glimpse of the war - not from a bird's eye perspective, but side by side with the men who lived and died on the battlefields of France. The documentary never shies away from the more grisly elements, as we witness everything from the ubiquitous <more>
apple-plum jam the soldiers spread on their bread to the dangers they faced simply relieving themselves. This strenuous documentary affords us in our modern age of ease, comfort and comparative wealth, the opportunity to gain a little greater an understanding of the horrors, the hardships, the very nightmare these young men passed through for our benefit. How little we know of true suffering.The introduction is in the customary format we've come to expect from the period - black-and-white, with an unrealistically low frame rate. Then the screen widens, the frame rate increases, the picture is saturated with colour, and a full dialog and ambience track emerges to complement the now stunningly remastered 100-year-old footage. True - the quality invariably fluctuates from poor to incredible and back again - but this is usually due to digitally zooming in to capture the expressions on the servicemen's faces, and honestly the concept of obtaining actual close-ups from standard wide shots is incredible. The technology available today to film-makers calls us to ever greater heights, and it's wonderful when we use it for truely worthwhile and honourable purposes.The oral accounts given by war veterans that accompany the entire documentary validate and inform, offering new viewpoints on the war easily overlooked. A good estimate of the spirit of a soldier in the British Army is arrived at by absorbing the information the veterans are able to provide. I can't think of a more impactful medium by which to gain a greater appreciation and respect for the men who fought for us than of this authentic documentation of the real event! This is an experience that will force you to sit up and pay attention. It is a harrowing, intense documentary, brilliantly remastered for the optimal experience that so effectively renews the reality of the Great War. Lest we forget.
Bill's Reviews For Short Attention Spans (by bipbop13)
This, simply put, is an amazing film that everyone should be required to see. Peter Jackson has miraculously restored World War I film footage and colorized it. That is the least of the accomplishments here. There are over 50 different soldiers from Britan, England, Canada, New Zealand & Australia that were recorded around 1914 who share their stories of what we are seeing unfold on the screen. It starts out with the drafting of men as young as 16 years old, to the climax of the final rush to the German trenches & barbed wire during the final battle of the war. Much credit is given to <more>
the empathy that the English troops showed toward their captured German counterparts, as neither party wanted to be involved in this slaughter. Over one million English soldiers lost their lives in this war. The storytellers range in their emotions of being in the war from elated, to workmanlike, and sometimes feeling guilty to have taken a life they felt they didn't need to. This is a top notch transportation back over one hundred years to a time most of us don't even think about, let alone want to learn about. "They Shall Not Grow Old" shows that there is still much left to study and learn from these ghosts. We're lucky Mr. Jackson came along to help preserve the fading heroes of our past.
Heart-stopping 3D color restorations which end in a muddle of moral equivalence. (by mmdookie-96151)
As someone with an enduring and almost lifelong interest in The Great War, I was thrilled to find a single seat at this regrettably limited release. Yet I found that the film settled on a few themes and hammered at them almost ad nauseam. The reconstructed voices were touching and appropriately foreign-sounding to American ears, while remaining almost always decipherable. Yet it seems the directors followed the material available to them so much so that it leaves the film stilted and perseverative. How many 15, 16 and 17 year old bright shiny faces with accompanying nearly identical <more>
testimonies are required to show that the Brits took kids into the army?! The second major disappointment was the total lack of any historical context or explanation. I understand that the main goal was to bring the war to life in the voices and faces of ordinary combatants. Yet we follow a major incursion into German-held territory without even knowing in which battle this occurred. Geez it might have been Gallipoli for all we were told. Except that there were no Turks or ships. The second theme-of-perseveration was how nice all the Germans were. We are supposed to take it on faith that these smiling starving Teutonic waifs has nothing to do whatsoever with the well-documented and horrific war crimes which were perpetrated against citizens in Belgium and Northern France. With the systematic forced conscription, if not enslavement, of citizens in these territories into German war industries. The massacres of the populations of entire villages if it was suspected that a sniper had operated in their midst? The introduction of chemical warfare at the front? The bombing of civilian areas of London by Zeppelins? They served a despotic undemocratic regime and helped carry out its barbarous tactics against civilians and soldiers alike. Which leads directly to my third complaint: the claim of moral equivalence in the conflict. Germany wanted the war, and was itching to employ its massive military and industrial complex to establish itself as a major player on the world stage, and obtain a meaning set of colonies. The Kaiser was jealous of his cousin King George. Germany manipulated and goaded Austro-Hungary into declaring war so they could join and eventually dominate Europe. Yet at the end of "They Shall Not Grow Old" we hear voice after simple English voice resolutely affirming that there was no point to it at all and both sides were the same. One would have thought that most of them would eventually recognize this as the First European War of German Aggression, especially after the Second. It's as if Sauron and Gandalf the White got into a meaningless spat which almost destroyed Middle Earth.
A mixed bag with some wonderful things in it (by richard-1787)
This movie is definitely a mixed bag of good and less good things, but the good very definitely outweigh the less good.To begin with, for me the best part of the picture was very definitely Jackson's explanation of how and why he made this documentary. It comes at the end, after all the credits - and, at least when I saw it today, after almost everyone has left the theater - and that is a GREAT shame. Jackson is an intelligent and very knowledgeable, as well as a very modest and engaging, man, at least in his 20+ minute explanation, and I found it and him thoroughly fascinating. He <more>
explained, somewhat like Ken Burns, that his goal was to present the war as it was experienced by the common British soldier, rather than to explain battle strategies, treaties, etc. - i.e., the sort of thing we got in war documentaries before Ken Burns. That his picture does very well. It also turns out that Jackson has been collecting things related to World War I for years, and knows a lot about it. I suspect that that is why the British War Museum asked him to create something out of their World War I film footage. He was far from a random choice.Jackson also explains/shows how he and his crew were able to make some of the 100 hours of World War I film footage come back to life. That, too, was very interesting, because he and his crew took the time to do a very accurate job of it, including the colorization. The results definitely benefit from their meticulous efforts. I would have appreciated this even more in the movie if we had been able to see Jackson's talk first, but I suppose his producers felt that the audience wouldn't want to sit through a lecture before a picture. I think that was selling audiences short. After all, only history buffs are going to see this movie. Also fascinating was the work done to remain faithful to English regional accents when certain parts of originally silent film footage was dubbed. I suspect that will be lost on most American viewers who can't distinguish one regional British accent from another - it was certainly lost on me.In fact, for me, the accents were sometimes a real problem when they ran over a lot of background noise. This was especially the case for me during the long - for me too long - battle sequence near the end of the movie. Jackson used snippets from 600 hours of audio interviews recorded by the BBC after World War I to try to convey what it was like to be in the trenches during the battle of the Somme. It was a nice idea in principle, but I could not make out some of what was said, because the accents were too think and the background sound too loud.I also didn't care for the 3-D effect, and would recommend seeing this movie in 2-D.But I would very definitely recommend seeing this movie. Not so much to World War I buffs, who probably won't learn a lot new here. But rather to those interested in documentaries about eras before our own, especially since the invention of the camera, to see one approach, and one set of techniques, that can be used to make them come alive.-------------------------I went back today to see the movie again, this time in 2-D. A few added comments.First, as I suspect, this movie is much better in 2-D than 3-D. 3-D can be fun when a movie is originally shot that way, but turning what was originally shot in 2-D into 3-D looks fake, and that is true in this case as well.Second, I appreciated the work done on restoring the 100-year-old silent films MUCH more this time, because yesterday I saw Peter Jackson's 30-minute explanation of what they did to bring it about. It reinforces what I wrote above: his remarks should be watched BEFORE the movie, not after it.Third, even on a second viewing-hearing, the snippets from the radio interviews become very difficult to hear during the battle scenes, in part because my American ear is not accustomed to some of the English accents, in part because the battle sounds are too loud - or the interview snippets not loud enough.Fourth, I still think the battle runs on too long for what there is to show and say. Jackson has to use the same footage more than once, and that becomes very obvious.But again, I strongly recommend this movie to those who want to see what can be done to make old video footage more interesting to the general public.