Peter Jackson's WWI Doc Gets Title, London Film Festival Confirms World Premiere

Credit: Wingnut Films / IWM
'They Shall Not Grow Old'

'They Shall Not Grow Old' will help mark 100 years since the war came to an end.

Peter Jackson's WWI documentary, first announced earlier this year, has been given a name. 

They Shall Not Grow Old, whose title comes from Laurence Binyon's 1914 poem "For the Fallen" and the Oscar-winning filmmaker's first turn as director since the final The Hobbit installment, has also been confirmed as getting its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, almost 100 years to the day that the war came to an end in 1918.

The film, which was co-commissioned by British WWI centenary arts program 14-18 NOW alongside Imperial War Museums, will be screened at the BFI Southbank on October 16, followed by a Q&A with Jackson hosted by film critic Mark Kermode, with both simultaneously screened in cinemas and special venues around the U.K.

Tapping into Jackson's own personal fascination with WWI, They Shall Not Grow Old has been created with original footage from Imperial War Museums' film archive and audio from the BBC archives, using voices of the veterans and original archive footage (which has been colorized and converted to 3-D) to bring the war to life in a way never seen before.

"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. By using our computing power to erase the technical limitations of 100-year cinema, we can see and hear the Great War as they experienced it," said Jackson.

"A hundred years after the First World War, we know much about the horrific impact of this conflict on its soldiers, especially the brutal scale of the casualties which decimated a generation, but Peter’s film offers new understanding of the human experience of life at the front," added London Film Festival artistic director Tricia Tuttle.

"Using original audio and moving image archive, he allows the soldiers to tell their own stories. The work his team has done on the materials, adding color and converting to 3-D, is painstaking and beautiful. It makes these people from 100 years ago seem so alive and gives an uncanny sense the footage was shot recently."