Superb. This was exceptional. Peter Jackson and his team painstakingly took 100 year old archive footage and somehow rendered it into HD. An absolute triumph. Very emotional to hear what the soldiers were going through. Should be compulsory viewing in schools or something. 9/10
Everyone in the world should watch this film. It's absolutely incredible. The work that has gone into restoring the footage and putting together the sound effects and voices is absolutely remarkable. It's always fascinating to hear information from the people who were actually there fighting this horrific war. I think it speaks volumes that they all hate the glorification of war, and that when it was over, they didn't really care who won - They were ALL just glad it was over, on all sides. One of them stated that we must all make sure it will never happen again. These are the people who were there; these are the people we need to listen to. Never underestimate the devastation, the trauma, and the absolute hell that war is. This film should be played in schools every single year. Don't just stick a flag up on Facebook every November and say "Lest We Forget"... It means absolutely nothing! Actually remember what soldiers, medics, animals, and civilians really went through. Remember the true gore that war creates and all the people that suffer because of the stupidity of politics.
Looking at this reconstructed footage, it is hard to believe that we are looking at a war so historically distant that its earliest battles were fought with calvary charges. At times, you have to remind yourself that these are scenes from World War I, not World War II.
That said, though, some of the footage borders on uncanny valley-type material (I guess the algorithms to fill in lost frames are only capable of so much) and a few scenes are replayed more than once to fill the run time. Additionally, if I am really going to nit-pick here, the series of smash-cuts to a ruined body when someone was killed in the accompanying voice-over was... well, if not tacky, then at least somewhat inelegant.
While it is fantastic to have a historical record of the time, it was pretty early in the development of film-making, so there's no real visual narrative at work in much of the footage. Most scenes are just soldiers filing past the camera, or impromptu shots of platoons sitting around, eating, entertaining themselves or being self-conscious about being filmed.
The voice-over of combat veterans does help fill in what is missing, to some degree, but I still found the content somewhat thin. The film describes a creeping/rolling artillery barrage, but doesn't try to explain how revolutionary it was at the time. But bear in mind that I have had the benefit of learning about the Great War from films like 'Passchendaele and 'War Horse', or from Dan Carlin's excellent Blueprint For Armageddon series on his Hardcore History podcast.
For someone first dipping their toes in this dark era of world history, 'They Shall Not Grow Old' is a good start. But for someone hoping for Peter Jackson to make something profound or significant, or something that transcends the gimmick of the reconditioned footage, this may fall a little short.
Incredible viewing. Really adds a certain realism to the brutality of war. In parts it's terrifying and it doesn't make for comfortable viewing - but then that's the point isn't it? War was terrible and this film really gives you a sense of that. Even though it's harrowing, any school kid taking history should watch this.
Compiled to be personal. Brilliant. Peter Jackson turned 100 hours of documentary film and over 600 hours of audio interviews, of those who served, into a very personal encounter with the First World War. The post credit 30 minute featurette, about the process of making the documentary, is not to be missed. I was startled by the packed afternoon showing (I heard the manager of the cineplex say that when he saw the ticket sales he had to move the film out of the events theatre and into the largest auditorium they had). This is a really fine production - emotional and educational. I give this a 10 (brilliant film making) out of 10. [Historical War Documentary]
An outstanding effort from legendary director Peter Jackson, the only disappointment that I had was finding out that the restoration process was still very expensive; a big part of me was hoping that he would invent some modern technology could somehow democratize it and bring it to a PBS style multi hour documentary.
I might be the odd one out, because most people seem to be in awe of this movie/project, but I ultimately found it to be fairly unsatisfying.
The technical achievement of restoring WW1 film footage to a somewhat modern looking film is impressive, but wasn't good enough to really work for me - the outcomes of the technology employed are generally so wonky, noticeable, and artefact heavy that I found it more distracting than impressive.
In terms of showing us the lived experiences of trench warfare in WW1, this didn't really add to my appreciation of the horror that was (the first) war to end all wars. We know conditions were brutal. This just shows us in colour. In my case, that didn't add enough to make it required watching.
One of my favorite lines from any movie or tv show came from an episode of MASH. Colonel Potter was contemplating his life as a military man in front of the group. He referenced that he had taken part in "the war to end all wars and then the war after that one". This is a documentary that is unlike any that I have ever seen. I've seen a ton of war documentaries - they usually cover the various battles, strategies, victors and loss. This film had none of any of this. It instead captured the mindset of very young men as they headed off to war as an escape from their plight at home. What really stunned me throughout the documentary is just how casual they were about the whole war. They had no problems going to the war, they didn't mind it when they were there and many didn't want it to end. The doc didn't directly touch on this but this war was definitely part of the transformation of war in modern society.
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For the most part this is pretty standard History Channel, WWI, we band of brothers went off to battle type stuff. At least it definitely starts that way, the movie is old footage of young boys hustling off to war, footage of boot camp, soldier life, trench life and of course the hells of war, all shown with narration from actual soldiers who lived this life. As to be expected the narration starts off good natured with tales of British patriotism and young boys lying about their age to rush off to die. It's hard to imagine a time where pride swelled this much, but it's easy to see why it isn't in such abundance these days, as you see how the harsh reality of soldier life and war hit these young pack of lads. The real impressive part is when the old black and white war footage becomes full screen and in color. Everything becomes more real and feels more recent. And the reality becomes more harsh. Dealing with gun fire and bombs isn't enough as your country doesn't even bother to get you boots that fit or more than one uniform, you're fed bread and butter and you fight off rats and lice all for God and country. You end up fighting some other kid in a different color uniform and you watch your friends brains get blown out of the back of their heads. Yes, war is hell, many a video game have shown us this over and over. I mean no disrespect for these young men that put their lives on the line and came back and got basically shit on, they deserve all the praise and respect in the world. It's the people that force these decisions in the first place that I blame. I don't mean to sound so edgy and cynical, but I can't help it, I just watched depressing war stories for the past 90 minutes.
Brilliant.If I hadn't been in a state of shock throughout most it I most likely would have cried.