Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)

Directed by Peter Jackson

Author

A wonderfully edited collection of interviews. The process of reviewing all of the footage, selecting which clips to use, and putting all of it into a sensible and visually appealing order seems like a Herculean task.

I like the anonymity of it. Not having any names but having these people tell their very personal stories gives it a unique feel. It’s amazing, though. The voices we hear really do seem to match the faces we see in a lot of the shots.

It’s amazing how, despite all the carnage, people seem to look like they are mostly in good spirits. Some even describe being friendly with the Germans. War has definitely changed in the last century, hasn’t it? What I found most interesting was how everyone is curious or wary or hamming it up for the camera when it’s pointed at them. Was awareness of mass media already present around this time?

The highlight is the color restoration of the archival film footage. It’s not perfect, but they did a really nice job with it. Who knew there was this much WWI footage to work with.

What really takes it to the next level is the spectacular foley and voiceover work. Putting it all together, it really gives you a sense of what it was like to be there. There should be an Oscar for this.

I wonder what went into the decision to start and end the movie with the original, unedited footage. If anything, the transition gives me a new appreciation for archival footage. For me and probably for most people, there’s a disconnect between grainy, scratched, jumpy, fast-moving images and the reality of the time. But now, I know that even the lowest quality footage contains people who have real stories to tell.

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