Monday, December 17, 2018


They Shall Not Grow Old

They Shall Not Grow Old official site If you visit Canada, the UK, or Australia in early November each year, you will see people wearing red poppies everywhere to remember those sacrificed in World War I, also called the Great War. However, that War is not remembered quite the same way elsewhere in the world including the United States. By the time the war ended at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, sixteen million people were dead and twenty-one million were wounded. On the centenary anniversary of that historic moment, an innovative documentary "They Shall Not Grow Old" (UK/New Zealand 2018 | 99 min.) might change that status quo about how this war is remembered and inspire us to look back and commemorate the soldiers fought in that war.

The film is directed by the Academy Award-winning director Peter Jackson who is known for his Lord of the Rings blockbusters. Using his technological expertise in filmmaking, he astonishingly restored and assembled archival footage about World War I from the Imperial War Museums. Not only did he calibrate the frame speed to make the images' movement more natural, but he also turned the black and white footage into color and presented in 3D!

As a result, for the first time we are able to witness the World War I battle ground up-close, and vividly experience the horror those soldiers endured. By only using the archived audio interviews from real World War I veterans as voice over, the film gives us a first-person account of the war and offers a never-seen-before look about the war a century ago. The voices are candid, the images are gripping, and the history is alive.

They Shall Not Grow Old Official Site

Although the voices in the film don't belong to the people appearing on the screen, but you can hardly tell the difference due to the superb post-production effort and carefully chosen materials. The level of clarity in its war coverage is extraordinary. We rarely even get this type of intimate reporting about soldiers in the front-line in today's news.

The destruction is catastrophic, the living condition is atrocious, yet the soldiers are brave and in good spirits. But what exactly were they fighting for? What kept them going even when they were suffering from heavy casualties in an unbearable environment? The film avoids that question altogether. If you are not familiar with World War I, you probably won't know the answer after watching the film. However, those immersive images should inspire you to conduct some research yourself.

From start to finish, the voice over never stops. It's a little bit exhausting to absorb all the information from those veterans while keeping up with all the stunning images on the screen. It would be much better paced if there were some breaks from the voice over.

The film gives a nice touch with one scene showing bright red poppies on the battle ground. Hopefully next November, more people who have seen this film will also wear red poppies to remember these brave soldiers.

"They Shall Not Grow Old," is shown twice as a Fathom Event on Monday, December 17, 2018 and Thursday, December 27, 2018, then it opens on Friday, February 1, 2019.

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