“They Shall Not Grow Old” most immersive war documentary ever

Julia Kolman, Staff Reporters

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World War I comes to life through the lens of the frightened boys and proud men of the Great War, telling their stories void of narration in the documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old.”

Directed by Peter Jackson, “They Shall Not Grow Old” is a story of men and boys and their experiences detailed through their own voices and historical footage.

Jackson utilizes high quality technology to capture, colorize and incorporate sound effects into World War I footage from the Imperial War Museum archives with excellent cinematography.

The documentary flows well without narration, subtitles, locations, dates or identification. Personal interviews with older British soldiers added to that effect of detail in their dramatic and traumatic experiences.

These stories share common feelings about the war and its harsh conditions, such as lying about one’s age to enlist.

When the young men are marching through the war zone with their faces almost as clear as in modern films the audience experience the war as it was in color and with sound, not through the occasional black and white historical filter.

The images of deadly bloodshot wounds and lifeless bodies paint the scene as an alarming experience, one that 120 men witnessed and narrated.

The film follows the perceived glory of war as the men are introduced marching through British towns, impressing ladies and proudly volunteering to fight before the legal age.

But it also, as it should, portrays death and mutilation. Some scenes are disturbing and some stories are told unbelievably well.

Jackson superbly restores and displays the footage in an engaging manner. “They Shall Not Grow Old” perfectly captures the faces, the voices and the lives behind history’s silent war. It is a glimpse into into the past that allows the viewer to experience World War I at its clearest stages.

5/5

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