Peter Jackson Restores Humanity Back to WWI with New Doc

The fallen of World War I, in living color. 

As an audience, we've become so accustomed to seeing movies about World War II that we often forget the peril that crossed Europe during World War I. It wasn't a subject tackled in high budget, mainstream cinema until Wonder Woman made it the centerpiece of its plot that modern audiences confronted the war. 

Part of the reason is that the conflict was so long ago, that there was little footage that existed. And what they found, was in poor shape. 

Now, Peter Jackson, the man who took us to Middle Earth, Skull Island, and Modor, has a new documentary out that covers World War One. 

They Shall Not Grow Old takes old reels of war footage and restores them through a complicated post-production process. This brings life and humanity back into the images and gives us a greater understanding of the first world conflict. Check out the trailer below. 

Jackson and his team were granted access to the Imperial War Museums’ film archive and audio from BBC archives. They spent thousands of hours restoring footage and audio from the era. Through a multi-faceted process, we now can view the war in all its inhumanity: the death, destruction, and degradation on a grand scale. 

Even more critical, the colorization of these reels provides a deeper understanding of the humans who fought in this war. 

We can see rosy cheeks stained with blood, the sunken eyes of men stuck in horror, and an occasional smile of someone hoping it'll all be over soon. 

To learn more about Jackson's process in restoring the archives, check out the behind the scenes documentary below. 

It's been 100 years since the conflict ended, and this 99-minute movie will certainly deepen our understanding of the legacy left behind in such a battle. The film premiered at the BFI London Film Festival on October 16 and is now rolling out in select theaters across the world.      

Your Comment


This looks so good, and so meaningful too. The more we understand and empathize with our past, the more we can identify and avoid similar tragedies in our future. Nobody thinks a global war like WWI or WWII is possible anymore, but they're wrong. The more projects like this that push a peace-centered message the better. Thank you Mr. Jackson.

November 27, 2018 at 9:52AM

Benjamin Bettenhausen
Owner, Mahalo Video

I thought everyone thinks quite opposite, that global war is quite possible.

November 27, 2018 at 6:34PM


Great visual work, I wish I can watch this documentary based on BBC archives. I would love to see this amazing work done from French and German archives too.
For a commemoration exhibition, I had to study WW1 on a French stand point and it was very moving. If you do not mind, here are some figures and comment.

Among a population of 39 millions, 1.4 millions military died (98% were civilian enrolled to defend their country), 600 000 are considered as lost (not counted as dead because their shred bodies melted with the mud and could not be recognized), 300 000 civilian died and 4.3 million soldiers were severely wounded.
50% of the 18 yo engaged in the conflict never came back.
22% of the men engaged in the conflict never came back.
Not a single average family get out untouched by this conflict: at least a brother, a son, a father, a cousin, a fiancé or a husband was killed or crippled after 4 years of bombing (1 billions shells were dropped on the battle field), machine guns fire, attacks and counter attacks, deadly gas, barbed wire, hunger, thirst, frozen feet, vermin, parasite, rats, sticky mud and flooded trenches, in an endlessly tormented lifeless landscape.
They were not heroes trained for this.
They were just peasant, workers, employees, officials, shop keepers, builders, mechanics, teachers, bakers, cooks, doctors... who died and suffered because they had to do their duty and they did it filled with fear, despair, courage and self-sacrifice, without being naives.
Despite the official propaganda, they understood, at a very early stage (1916), that if they were fighting for the fatherland, they were dying for the industry and the international finance, the hidden decision makers collecting huge profits from that lasting and destructive conflict.
The wound is still alive in France in our collective memories and on our soil.
100 years later, there is a red zone of 3 millions ha of fields still polluted (hazardous shells, mixed bodies rests, chemicals) and unfit to agriculture and life.

November 27, 2018 at 10:37AM, Edited November 27, 10:37AM

Franc Sanka
Director of Photography / Film and Photography Teacher