Peter Jackson’s New Documentary Shows World War I As You’ve Never Seen It Before


For the first time in a century, World War I can be seen, and heard, the way it was for those who waged it.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War, Academy Award-winning director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) digitally remastered a trove of silent black and white footage from the war, bringing it to life with color and sound in the new documentary They Shall Not Grow Old.

The four-year project was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum in partnership with the BBC, which provided Jackson with 600 hours of footage to produce the film. The 90-minute documentary captures the realities of war on the Western Front, from combat, to life in the trenches, and those brief moments of respite during the soldiers' downtime.

Related: See 6 Incredible World War II Photos In Color »

“I wanted to reach through the fog of time and pull these men into the modern world, so they can regain their humanity once more–rather than be seen only as Charlie Chaplin-type figures in the vintage archive film," Jackson, who was drawn to the topic due to his grandfather's service in World War I, said in an interview with the United Kingdom's iNews.

The documentary features commentary from 120 World War I veterans pulled from recordings of BBC interviews conducted in 1964, and moments of dialogue captured on film were recreated using professional lip readers, and narrated by professional actors.

"They Shall Not Grow Old" took four years to create and was pulled together from 600 hours of silent black and white footage.

In the trailer we see and hear artillery firing into the distance, first-generation tanks rumble over trenches, as cavalry races along shallow riverbeds. In the next moment, British soldiers laugh, smoke, and grin at the camera — some with ash and mud still on their faces.

The newly colorized footage, while visually stunning, is only half the allure of the film — the real draw is in the soldiers themselves.

“There's been lots of documentaries made on the First World War … and I just decided for this one to strictly just use the voices of the guys that fought there," Jackson told iNews.

“It's not the story of the war. It's the story of the human experience of fighting in the war."

They Shall Not Grow Old makes its debut at the BFI London Film Festival on Oct. 16, and is scheduled to run on BBC on Nov. 11.

DON'T MISS: 'For Heavens Sake Stop It': How A WWI Army Officer Stopped Friendly Fire From Hitting His Men

Soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division in their Bradley Fighting Vehicle during Marne Focus at Fort Stewart, Ga. during the week of Oct. 14, 2019 (U.S. Army photo)

Three soldiers were killed and another three injured when their Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over during a training exercise at Fort Stewart in Georgia on Sunday morning, Army officials announced.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper addresses reporters during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., October 11, 2019. (Reuters/Erin Scott)

KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday in a bid to bring talks with the Taliban back on track after President Donald Trump abruptly broke off negotiations last month seeking to end the United States' longest war.

Esper's trip to Kabul comes amid questions about the United States' commitments to allies after a sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and Trump's long-time desire to get out of foreign engagements.

Read More Show Less
Ummmmmm what? (Twitter)

Mark Esper is the third person after James Mattis and Patrick Shanahan to helm the Pentagon since Donald Trump became president, and he's apparently not making much of an impression on the commander-and-chief.

On Sunday, Trump sent a very real tweet on "Secretary Esperanto," which is either a reference to a constructed international language developed more than 130 years ago and only spoken on the PA system in Gattaca or an egregious instance of autocorrect.

Read More Show Less

The Army says it's settled on three defense contractors to battle it out to become the service's M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon replacements, but at least one other company is hoping that a bit of consumer approval could help upset the competition.

Read More Show Less

The U.S. reportedly offered a long-term plan to help North Korea develop a tourist area in return for denuclearization during recent working-level talks in Stockholm that ended with the North side walking out, according to a new report.

American negotiators had drafted a plan to help build up the Kalma tourist area, the South's Hankook Ilbo newspaper reported Saturday, citing an unidentified top South Korean diplomat. The report didn't say how the North Koreans responded to the offer, but chief nuclear negotiator Kim Myong Gil portrayed the U.S. as inflexible after the talks earlier this month, blasting the Americans for not giving up "their old viewpoint and attitude."

Read More Show Less