Filmed on location on the Western Front
I was able to get into one of the scarce (sold out) showings of “They Shall Not Grow Old” yesterday and just absolutely loved it. Peter Jackson– who it turns out is a big WWI nerd and has access to Great War-era artillery pieces (“as one does”) was given access to 100 hours of WWI footage in the Imperial War Museum’s archives, 600 hours of oral history interviews with 120 Commonwealth military veterans from the Western Front done in the 1950s and 60s, and took four years of coming through them all to compile the feature documentary.
The twist is, he balanced and corrected the film (some were too dark, some overexposed, and due to the nature of hand-cranked field cameras of the era was wildly either too fast or too slow) then correctly colorized the selected scenes and made them 3D. While the bulk of the voices you hear are from the Tommies themselves– all now speaking from beyond the grave– others are regional dialect-correct actors dubbing in dialog discerned by professional lip readers from the silent pictures.
It really was amazing, making you both laugh and cry alternatively. I left the theatre humming “Mademoiselle from Armentieres.”
It was a top-notch film, as much military art as history, and if you get a chance to see it, please make the effort. If it were up to me, all high school students, especially in the UK, would have to watch it.