Here's the problem with documentaries about anything that happened before 1940. They don't look real. Because of the cameras used at the time and the film footage, they look other-worldly. Herky-jerky motions of the people, no sound. It's hard to connect emotionally with the subjects. It all looks...kind of fake. Sure, you can empathize, but it just looks weird. I can remember thinking as a kid that the entire world used to be in black and white. That my grandparents were born into a world without color and it suddenly "clicked in" around 1950 or so. Every time I saw footage from the "Olden Days" it was really unsettling.
Peter Jackson has changed all that. The director of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings has a new Documentary coming out about the Great War called They Shall Not Grow Old. And he has performed a technological magic trick. By using State of the Art computers he's filled in the gaps to the jerky motions of REAL people who fought in World War I. And he was able to add color as well. Not that old school Colorization process from the 80's either. This looks good. This looks REAL. And with the addition of sound effects and voice acting, it's nothing short of amazing.
The film uses footage from the Imperial War Museums' archives and interviews of actual Servicemen recorded by the BBC. Most of the footage has never been seen before, and this is a stunning introduction.
By smoothing out the motion and adding sound, They Shall Not Grow Old is something completely new and completely moving. These aren't stop motion animations. These are real people with hopes and dreams caught up in the deadliest war of all time. The War to end all Wars.
When I saw the trailer, I was simply floored. I cannot wait to see it. Unfortunately it will be in limited release for theaters. Mark December 17 and 27 on your calendars and keep your fingers crossed that it will get a larger release soon, because I imagine we will all want to see this on the big screen. With a subject this epic and visuals this good, it would seem a shame to watch it on the TV at home. Although I will. In a heartbeat. I want to know more about the people who experienced these events. I want to walk in their shoes and try to get a better sense of what they went through. And now, thanks to Peter Jackson and modern technology, I can. We all can.