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Peter Jackson’s “They Shall Not Grow Old” brings color and sound to WWI footage

Peter Jackson’s “They Shall Not Grow Old” brings color and sound to WWI footage

Peter Jackson has given new life to 100-year-old film footage.

As part of the WWI centenary, the British Imperial War Museum commissioned The Lord of the Rings director to create They Shall Not Grow Old, a documentary that casts the “war to end all wars” in a new, technicolor light.

Jackson and his team at WingNut were granted access to 600 hours of black-and-white, silent footage from the Western Front, which he boiled down to a 90-minute film that’s been colorized and digitally remastered–not unlike the 2009 docu-series World War II in HD Colour. Jackson spent four years working on the project, pouring over reels and consulting professional lip readers to analyze what the soldiers were saying. He hired actors to bring those voices to life, and for narration, used clips of interviews with veterans recorded in 1964.

As Jackson explained in an interview, “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.”

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