Movie Review: ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ by Peter Jackson


Genres: WWI, Military History, Documentary

Rating: Highly Recommended

Here’s the TL;DR for my review:

  • Pros
    • Amazing restored footage
    • The feels. The storytelling style does a great job of inspiring empathy in the viewer.
    • Audio narration from soldiers who survived the War.
  •  Mixed
    • Not much historical information. The production team focused on the day-to-day experiences of the soldiers-on-the-ground and no other aspects of the war. It was GREAT in that way, but you don’t learn a thing about the Home Front, the wars in the colonies or the military strategies as a whole.
  • Cons
    • If you don’t like documentries, don’t go see this. That said, I still think this is a very good documentary.

‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ is Peter Jackson’s WWI documentary. It is entirely restored footage from 100 years ago, done by ‘WingNut Films (of Lord of the Rings fame) on the behalf of the UK’s Heritage Lottery Fund (I think). The documentary is constant narration by former Great War servicemen, an intricately stitched together construction which is designed to impart the horrors and banalities of war together for our modern understanding.

In particular I liked the sound direction. The footage from back then didn’t have audio natively due to technical limitations, so the producers instead relied on lip-readers and historical records to rediscover what was being spoken in these movies. They then had period-and-region accurate voice actors brought in to speak the lines, recreating the scenes in question.

It was good. If you have the chance to see it in theaters, do so.


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