For Valentines Day, Check Out Documentary ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’

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Nothing is more romantic for Valentines Day than curling up with a loved one than a nice bowl of popcorn and a First World War documentary. Am I right?

Last night, my daughter Caidyn (she is very cool) wanted to spend some dad time at our local Alamo Drafthouse Cinema watching a war documentary. She is contemplating joining the military at some point and a big fan of history, so it made sense to stay out late on a school night to check out something a little out of left field for a father-daughter date night.

Seriously, though, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson created a masterful documentary called “They Shall Not Grow Old.” It covered the First World War from the British perspective using new digital technology that made the footage look almost as good as a Hollywood movie – not quite, but the footage created a different vibe for the movie than I expected.

Jackson was commissioned to create a new take on the old footage on the anniversary of the end of the war. As Jackson explained at the beginning of the film, he experimented with 5 minutes of footage using new technology for five months to see if he could create something truly unique.

And he did. Since I am not a movie critic, it is hard to explain why the movie was so captivating when watching it. Maybe it was seeing the old film in color without glitches that helped my eye follow different characters in each bit of footage.

The documentary used 3D technology that presented the war through a new lens that included remastered audio from interviews of the British veterans from the 1960s and 1970s. A lot of the pops from older recordings were removed making the sound easy to hear.

The software removed the jittery feature we are used to seeing from WWI footage, and the colorization made the footage look almost better than some Vietnam War footage we have seen in the recent documentary by Ken Burns.

Jackson also included a segment on the veteran experience after the war ended. One hundred years ago, veterans felt alienated and distant from their civilian counterparts. Sound familiar?

After watching it, my seventeen-year-old daughter was filled with questions about the backstory of the Prussians, Germany, and our history fighting those same wars, over and over. So, it was a solid success for a father-daughter night as far as I’m concerned.

I know this is rather light when compared against what I generally write about, but the documentary was worth sharing. Check it out.

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6 Comments

  1. Thanks for the info, Ben. On two fronts.

    1. Never heard of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Wasn’t one in Honolulu when I left.
    2. “They shall never grow old” has now been added to my watchlist.

    Won’t get to see it before Valentine’s Day though. A little something from the Treasury of the United States showed up in the mailbox yesterday. Now it will be time to seriously winnow the ‘short list’ of Trikes. Boss Hoss is scratched. BRP Spyder or Rewaco? Clean Title, and Time will tell . . .

    Yeeha !!!

  2. When i think of World War !, Hemingway comes to mind, one of our greatest American writers.
    ” If my valentine you will not be, I’ll hang myself on your Christmas tree”. Ernest Hemingway

  3. Thank you Ben for the story. It’s nice to hear stories like this, especially from veterans.

    You were able to take your daughter to watch something you both wanted to see and did so of your own free will !

    These are stories that make the sacrifice worth what we do gone through and why we did what we did.

    It’s called freedom !

    Your welcome American !

    The little things that matter.

  4. makes you kind of wonder if the youth of today find war docs about Iraq or the Stan old looking. due to the lack of cgi. thanks for the share will be watching this tonight super pumped!

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