For They Shall Not Grow Old, Peter Jackson and his team have restored, colourised and applied 3D technology to bring to life original film footage taken in black and white during the war.
“The result is a transformation that is nothing less than visually astonishing,” wrote a New York Times critic.
In the US, the film grossed more than US$2.3 million on its opening day last Monday, setting a record for Fathom Events as the highest-grossing single-day documentary, and one of the top-grossing single-night presentations of any kind from the distribution company. It played on more than 1000 screens in the US and encore screenings are scheduled for December 27.
Co-produced by the BBC and distributed by Warner Bros Pictures internationally, the film’s release coincides with the end of the First World War, also known as The Great War.
Here’s a preview of the film…
According to the online movie and television database IMDB, the production crew reviewed more than 600 hours of interviews with more than 200 soldiers, and 100 hours of original footage. Jackson, who did not receive a fee for the project, claimed it took a full year to review the material. Much of the footage has never been seen before, having sat in the vaults of London’s Imperial War Museum for many years.
“Peter Jackson was determined to present in the documentary only vintage film and artwork from the period and to not cheat by staging re-enactments,” writes IMDB. “Given that, he was uncertain how to depict the intense hand-to-hand fighting in the trenches, of which there exists no footage.
“Jackson fortunately had a collection of a serial magazine The War Illustrated, with dramatic pencil sketches of combat, and those illustrations were used in the film. Because these sketches were drawn during the war, Jackson was pleased to maintain period authenticity. The one challenge was that the pictures were propagandist in nature, depicting the British soldiers as valorous and the Germans cowardly in combat at odds with what is said by the testimonies in the documentary. The drawings had to be cropped to avoid the more outlandish jingoism.”