London, UK—The famous director Sir Peter Jackson will be releasing his latest film next month. This time, however, don’t expect hobbits and dragons. The acclaimed New Zealander has explored other battlefields: the unknown faces of World War One.
The movie is called “They Shall Not Grow Old.” It will be released in November to commemorate the centenary of the armistice that ended the Great War. It was contracted as part of the 14-18 NOW programme.
What’s unique about the movie is its protagonists. Jackson did not cast any actor for his movie, nor explore any landscapes. Instead, he utilized original photo and movie footage from WWI. He and his team received permission from the Imperial War Museum and the BBC to scavenge through their film archives for relevant footage.
“We all know what First World War footage looks like. It’s sped up, it’s fast, like Charlie Chaplin, grainy, jumpy, scratchy, and it immediately blocks you from actually connecting with the events on screen,” said the famous director.
Everything was in black-and-white. But with the aid of cutting-edge technology (the film footage was quite fragile), Jackson managed to rework them in high-definition colour.
“The results are absolutely unbelievable. This footage looks like it was shot in the last week or two, with high-definition cameras. It’s so sharp and clear now. The faces of the men just jump out at you. It’s the faces, it’s the people that come to life in this film,” added Jackson.
Jackson, however, couldn’t invent any voice for the footage since they were silent. He thus took a very logical step and contracted veterans for their voices. He believed that only they could understand the hardships and dangers of combat and thus relay to the audience the raw reality of the trenches.
“It’s the human beings that were actually there, that were thrust into this extraordinary situation that defined their lives,” added the New Zealand director.
The movie will be also be released both in 2D and 3D.
Sir Peter Jackson is the acclaimed director of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the captivating universe of Middle Earth, was a WWI veteran. He fought in the Somme. His war experiences and the losses of most of his childhood friends marked him and influenced his writings.
On a side note, Sir Jackson has one the world’s largest collection of WWI-era airplanes. His fleet, which numbers over 40 restored aircraft, includes many versions of the German Fokker Dr. I and British Sopwith Camel.
It is quite refreshing to see that people still care about those that fought in the war meant to end all wars. Although a hundred years may have elapsed, the First World War and its tragic tribute mustn’t be forgotten. And they won’t, as long as people can see the faces, read the letters, hear the stories of servicemen that fought.