VIEWERS of Peter Jackson’s new movie They Shall Not Grow Old have praised the colourised footage as ‘mesmerising’ after it hit the small screen last night.
The Lord of the Rings director remastered the Imperial War Museum’s archive of black-and-white film from WW1 and transformed it into colour.
He used modern techniques to erase the technical limitations and dubbed it over with a soundtrack of laughter, explosions and screams.
Commentary from more than 120 war veterans recorded in the 60s and 70s runs over the top of the images, bringing the reality of fighting in the First World War to life.
And the documentary has evoked an incredible response among viewers who have hailed the director as “amazing” and some even say it should win a Bafta.
Taking to Twitter, one viewer said: “Peter Jackson’s Great War doc is both breathtaking and utterly harrowing. I’ve never seen these events portrayed in this way. Just outstanding.”
One tweeted: “This Peter Jackson [film] is extraordinary. The utter senselessness of WW1 – the dreadful waste of life.
“I don’t know whether to feel more sorry for those who died or those who survived and had to live with memory of it.”
Another wrote: “If you’re not watching Peter Jackson’s ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’, stop what you’re doing and catch up immediately.
“That moment he makes the switch to colour and slows the frame rate is simply spine tingling. A chill went up my body. Incredible.”
One person wrote: “Stop what you are doing and turn to They Shall Not Grow Old on @BBCTwo it is utterly breathtaking”.
Another suggested: “It needs to be on the national curriculum – kids think its all about poppies – too humbling for words.”
Celebs also waded in with their thoughts, including comedian and telly star David Walliams, who said: “They Shall Not Grow Old’ is one of the greatest documentaries I have ever seen.
“It brings the horror & futility of WWI to life in a way I have never seen before.”
Mr Jackson, who has won three Oscars, said: “There’s been lots of documentaries made on the First World War… and I just decided for this one to strictly just use the voices of the guys that fought there.
“So no historians, no narration, no nothing.
“I wanted to reach through the fog of time and pull these men into the modern world, so they can regain their humanity once more – rather than be seen only as Charlie Chaplin-type figures in the vintage archive film.
“You don’t really notice them when they were all sped up and jerky, but suddenly they just come into a focus.”
Hobbit director Peter Jackson said the results were ‘unbelievable’[/caption]
Mr Jackson’s said his interest in WWI began as a child when his dad would tell him stories of his grandfather, who fought in the war.
He said he wanted to put a human face on the war that was meant to end all wars.
The film director said: “Part of my fascination with the First World War is that it was a pointless war in that sense. Because it was a pointless war, it is all about the people who were in it. How did these people actually cope with this thing?
“Not one soldier on the Western Front, I guarantee you, not one soldier could sit down and really explain in political terms what was important about fighting the war, what was important about beating the Germans.”
The project was a labour of love for Jackson, who travelled alone through Flanders and France taking thousands photos of the former battlefields to bring the landscape the men fought in realistically to life.
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He said he hoped the colourised documentary would help keep the memory of the millions who lost their lives in the Great War.
“It’s not the story of the war”, he said. “It’s the story of the human experience of fighting in the war.”
The 90-minute film – called They Shall Not Grow Old – will have its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival next week which will be attended by the Duke of Cambridge.
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