THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD – A Review by Cynthia Flores
They Shall Not Grow Old was commissioned to commemorate the centennial of the end of WWI. The director, Peter Jackson, was given complete creative control. He had access to never-before-seen footage, and he chose to use only voice-overs recorded in the 1950’s and 60’s from actual British men that fought on and survived the infamous Western Front. He also intended it to be fully experienced in 3D on the big screen. So, if you’re waiting to see this at home, no matter how big your entertainment system is you’ll be cheating yourself and have missed out on the experience that was intended for this film. He slowed the old jerky footage down and colorized most of it to surprising effects. In fact, when the film went into full color, the audience I was with gasped out loud as we marched with the men off to war. By doing this he made these naive young men and boys, sometimes as young as fourteen years old, come alive on the screen for us. He also made the awful conditions they had to endure at the Western Front more vivid. From the scourge of “trench foot” to the carnage all around them, you will not soon forget the sacrifices made to protect freedom and our way of life.
Even though they were living in hell when they were doing their shifts on the front lines, the film also shows them being young and dumb and keeping a sense of humor about them when they were resting and working back at base camp. The director said that he’s a non-historian that made a film for other non-historians and that’s why I think this film is so much more accessible and human than other war documentaries I’ve seen that are filled with dates, places, and facts splashed up on the screen. They Shall Not Grow Old has none of that, and it was Peter Jackson’s decision to present it that way. Instead, he lets the footage and the men themselves tell their stories of what it was like to fight in the First World War that was supposed to be the war to end all wars. So for anyone that enjoys Peter Jackson’s films or historical documentaries, you will love They Shall Not Grow Old as much as I did. I give this must-see film an A+ rating.
Directed by Peter Jackson
Written By Peter Jackson
Selig Rating A+
Running Time 1hr 39min
Documentary / War
Wide Release February 1st
Starring: Actual troops on the Western Front of WWI
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.