They Shall Not Grow Old Movie Review

Paige Hosbein Ms. Hennessy played the riveting trailer of They Shall Not Grow Old in her U.S. History class, which promptly intrigued students–especially since it earned an astounding 99% from Rotten Tomatoes. Directed by Peter Jackson, the second-highest-grossing director by worldwide box office sales, They Shall Not Grow Old tells the story of World War I from the perspective of men who endured it firsthand. Jackson sheds light on their daily life through piecing together the voices of veterans who discuss how they felt, the food they ate, and their fears, hopes, and dreams. Utilizing advanced computer technology, Jackson and his team of experts were able to transform one hundred year old footage to modern film by adjusting the film rates (the speed at which a film is projected, which wasn’t standardized until the sound era) and colorizing it. Sound effects–including real-life cannons and gunfire–were weaved in for an additional auditory appeal so the audience would feel like another British soldier on the battlefield, hiding in the trenches. Ben Kenigsberg of the New York Times wrote, “Peter Jackson has taken a mass of World War I archival clips from Britain’s Imperial War Museums and fashioned them into a brisk, absorbing and moving experience.” Junior Alice Bolandhement noted, “I saw the film two days after learning about WWI in HUSH. It brought the poems we read in class (Dulce et Decorum Est and How to Die) to life on the big screen. I thought it was interesting that there wasn’t a historian narrating the movie because most historical documentaries are narrated by historians. However, I liked that the story was told by the veterans who actually lived through the war. In this way, the movie is essentially hundreds of compiled primary sources.” Just after fifteen minutes into the movie, one may notice the widespread loss of teeth in British soldiers. The audience comes to learn that soldiers were only given a single toothbrush for their entire service in the war, which was mostly used to polish their buttons for patriotic purposes. The movie reveals fascinating details such as this, speaking to a new generation about what war does to youth. Ms. Hennessy explained, “From a historical perspective, the movie will provide viewers with a vivid look at the war and, perhaps, provide unique lessons about the tragedy that are useful in our own times. Further, I suspect that seeing the young age of many of the soldiers who fought will resonate with students who are, in some cases, the same age. From a film-making perspective, the movie will give a glimpse into what’s technologically possible for documentarians using old video footage.” So, to all the history buffs out there with a strong stomach: take the time to watch this masterpiece, a brutal but fascinating history lesson.]]>