They Shall Not Grow Old – Peter Jackson Documentary on WWI — NO SPOILERS

The original release date for this documentary was December 17th 2018.  Due to its popularity, another viewing was scheduled in January 2019 for the 21st.  With luck, this movie will be shown again.

This documentary is told in archive footage of WWI and BBC interviews of veterans of the war.  Director Peter Jackson, and his team put together a marvelous and tragically poignant story of trench warfare at the Belgian front.  From the excitement of the initial rush of new recruits to the bloody effects of shelling, the documentary takes you through it all using perspective of the common British soldier.

Turning hand cranked filming into speeds that most film goers are now familiar with, and painstakingly colorizing the film, the documentary leads you from British cities to training camps.  The sites then change to German countryside and the bleak, dreary life in the trenches, complete with descriptions, by the soldiers themselves, of food, water, play and even sanitary disposal.  They remember the lice, the frostbite and the sudden death of trench-mates from snipers, shelling, machine guns or hand to hand combat.

The restricted rating comes from the real life footage of the dead and dying soldiers, horses and even rats, bloated by flies and maggots.  It gives the viewer a realistic perspective of battle that most war movies are content to let pass.

At the end of the film, Peter Jackson introduces himself and gives you the reasoning behind his documentary choice, the process of restoring and filtering through footage, the voices, pictures and sounds behind the film, so stay behind and wait for his commentary.

A former dustman has amassed one of the Britain’s best collections of First World War photographs after spending decades rescuing them from rubbish tips and bins – From UK Telegraph
The caption on the back of this photo reads: Soldiers from the Scottish Regiment, taken in Flanders just as the men were waking up


I say there are no spoilers in this film review, but you do know the ending, or should if you know even the smallest amount of world history.  The end of World War One is nearly one hundred years away from today.  Lessons learned from that war may be lost and forgotten in some corners of our short attention span bubbles and click bait media.

Though there is no truly happy ending to this film, it is an important bit of history that is being lost and forgotten as the veterans oral history is archive and not retold..  It is a good thing to have it remembered again.  I can’t say you’ll “enjoy” this documentary, but it will stick with you in ways that others don’t, and that makes it a worthwhile viewing.