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They Shall Not Grow Old: Faces of War

by Thor

After the last part The Hobbit In 2014, the famous director Peter Jackson suddenly disappeared from the set. When he returns this year, he brings a startling project: Reviving historical footage from World War I.

100 years is a very long time, since the first great war of mankind. At that time, cinema was still in its infancy. All people have about that great event are opaque black-and-white footage. But everything changed when Peter Jackson, the series’ director Lord of the Rings (Lord of the Rings) brings documentary to London Film Festival tài They Shall Not Grow Old (They won’t age), last October.

Many commentators couldn’t believe their eyes, as colorful footage appeared on the screen, as if shot with a modern camera. “The effects are shocking. The soldiers came back as if they had been summoned in a voodoo session,” described The Guardian columnist Peter Bradshaw. “Those faces are hard to forget.” One of the rare films in 2018 received 5/5 stars of this site.

In an hour and a half of time, They Shall Not Grow Old bring viewers back in time with rare 100-year-old footage. The footage few people have seen, lying dormant in the warehouse of the British Imperial War Museum for a long time. Combined with interviews with hundreds of British soldiers who fought across Europe, World War I emerges with both stories and visuals. There are no historians or narrators, no leading commentary… the audience will form their own image of “The War That Ends All Wars”.

Reviving past footage is never easy. There is a deadline for filmmakers, often stopping at World War II, to ensure that the work is possible. Jackson just pushed this limit significantly further. From over 600 hours of material on offer, the director and his team spent three years selecting and restoring frame by frame. Luckily, modern technology from Jackson’s Weta Digital VFX effects company (who did the VFX for Lord of the Rings), was powerful enough for this job.

But that’s not all the trouble. 100 years ago means that the era of silent movies has not yet come, not a single sound has ever been recorded. Jackson had to mobilize a huge voice and sound team for this. Just a simple scene like soldiers laughing together, then playing guitar and singing, also consumes hundreds of hours of work. Imagine scenes as complex as on the battlefield, with all kinds of sounds big and small.

“I was completely stunned,” Jackson said in an interview. “600 hours of audio and 100 hours of material had to be completed. That’s the job of five or six movies.” Initially, he was about to give up, but something urged the director as soon as he saw the first few footage. “Their faces are unbelievable,” he immediately wanted to bring the unknown soldiers to the screen. They need to be known. The title of the film speaks volumes for Jackson to feel at that moment: Those soldiers are immortal, only the viewer is aging, needing to reevaluate the past as time goes on.

Peter Jackson, along with James Cameron, are known as the pioneers of modern cinematography. Lord of the Rings received countless Oscars, the effect is clear evidence. Therefore, it is rare for Jackson to be overwhelmed with filmmaking technology. They Shall Not Grow Old It’s one of those rare times. “When the film was completed, I was completely stunned. That’s when I really appreciate modern technology. I didn’t realize how good it could be,” he said. From here, the whole world will no longer have to picture World War I in black and white fantasies.

Jackson’s achievements with They Shall Not Grow Old could open a new direction for film. The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Dalton said, “The film rescues history from the books.” The techniques Jackson uses can be used in many other areas, where there is a lot of old footage that needs restoration. The past of mankind may not be the same in just 10 years.

Right now, Peter Jackson has his own plans. He wants to continue to deepen, test and develop this technique, first of all with his own old works. Audiences will probably have to wait a long time to enjoy his new film after The Hobbit. “I have decided to return to my old movies. My first four films, which were never released,” Jackson said. Those 4 movies are Bad Taste (Bad Taste, 1987), Meet the Feebles (Meet Feebles, 1989), Braindead (Brain Dead, 1992) and Heavenly Creature (Beasts from Heaven, 1993), are all low-budget films.

Although the four films above are all recognized as classics, none of them has ever been released to the public. Jackson always wanted to perfect them, but never had a specific direction, until now. “I can’t wait to bring them back. Those first years. Those wild days.” He did the tests with Braindead (Brain Dead, 1992), the same technique as the World War I movie and the result is “God, this is amazing!” Of course, not only color, movie quality will also be upgraded to high resolution (4K) with the latest sound effects.

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