Start United States USA — Cinema How Peter Jackson turned 100-year-old film footage into the unforgettable ‘They Shall...

How Peter Jackson turned 100-year-old film footage into the unforgettable ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’


The World War I documentary will be screening at theaters across Southern California on Dec. 17 and Dec. 27.
It was a simple request.
Director Peter Jackson, speaking with film critic Elvis Mitchell before a screening last week of his new World War I documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old,” recalled being offered the chance to make a documentary about World War I, a conflict his grandfather fought in and one that Jackson had a lifelong interest in.
“At the time of the premiere of the last Hobbit movie in London in 2014, the Imperial War Museum invited me to come in for a meeting and they asked if I would be interested in doing a documentary to commemorate the Armistice of the First World War. So that was like in four years time — that was 2018. So it seemed like a long, long time away,” said Jackson as the audience laughed along with him at his underestimation of the time and difficulty of the project. “Easy.”
Of course, if it seems unlikely that the Oscar-winning director of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” films would do a standard-issue war documentary — something available in abundance on the History Channel, say — you are correct. There’s nothing easy on display here; the film, which will have a special Southern California engagement on Dec. 17 and 27 and limited release on Jan. 11, is unlike other war documentaries, which is just what was asked for.
“The only thing the Imperial War Museum said to me,” said Jackson. “They said I could take any approach that I want to the First World War but the mandate was that they wanted me to use their original footage — of which they have hundreds of hours — and they wanted me to use it in a ‘fresh and original’ way.

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