The film will be one of the U.K. pubcaster’s centerpieces in its commemorative coverage around the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the day on which the allies and Germans agreed to cease hostilities in what is known as the Great War. The day is also marked by Remembrance Sunday, and Veterans Day in the U.S. Jackson’s film will go out at 9.30pm on BBC Two in the U.K.
“They Shall Not Grow Old” was commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the U.K. arts program for the First World War centenary, and the Imperial War Museum, in association with the BBC. Jackson mined the BBC and museum’s archives for historical footage that was then restored and hand-colorized. Combined with the voices of the veterans, the project seeks to bring to life the reality of war on the front line for a new generation.
The resulting feature, which was produced by Jackson’s WingNut Films and executive produced by House Productions, debuted at the London Film Festival. “Giving a remarkable 3D makeover to archival First World War footage, Peter Jackson’s first documentary is a technical dazzler with a surprisingly humane streak,” Variety said in its LFF review.
“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,” Jackson said. “By using our computing power to erase the technical limitations of 100-year-old cinema, we can see and hear the Great War as they experienced it.”
BBC commissioner Tom McDonald added: “It’s a great honor to broadcast Peter Jackson’s extraordinary film, which brings the realities of World War One vividly to life.”