By: Henry J. Fromage (A Toast) –
You may have (but almost certainly didn’t) watch Mortal Engines around Christmas, and the way they desperately tried to leverage producer Peter Jackson’s name in the marketing, you’d be forgiven for assuming that’s all he’s been up to since the last Hobbit movie.
However, this is what Peter Jackson’s been up to.
Yes, They Shall Not Grow Old is a centenary documentary about The Great War, the War to End All Wars, World War I, but don’t worry- Peter Jackson’s fingerprints are all over this thing.
And by Peter Jackson’s fingerprints, I mean he’s once again attempted and achieved something nobody else would even think to try- taking period footage, accelerating its frame rate, colorizing it, and touching it up with that signature Weta wizardry until, in a Wizard of Oz moment for the 21st Century, it comes vividly, undeniably to life.
Jackson also has another obvious aim- to humanize these men from a century ago through this footage and the voice-over remembrances of them or their peers as old men. He shows how young they were, how bought in they were to nationalism and pride and the glory of war, then drops the hammer with brutal, shocking, just as vividly enlivened footage of the blood, shit, and death that permeate the trenches of this horrifying war.
Good luck forgetting what trenchfoot looks like in color.
What soon becomes clear, though, is the greater point that Jackson is making about all wars and the young, often uneducated, next-to-brainwashed boys and girls who actually fight them. This isn’t a movie about the blood, shit, and death of The Great War- it’s a movie about how War is Blood, Shit, and Death and little else.
They Shall Not Grow Old is a stunning statement, and for my money the most effectively delivered one of Peter Jackson’s career.
They Shall Not Grow Old (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever you wonder how an entire postwar generation escaped eating nothing but applesauce
Take a Drink: every time you want to retch or cry and do both
Take a Drink: every time you spot footage that is reused
Do a Shot: for that Wizard of Oz moment- both ends
Do a Shot: if you stuck around for the making of documentary. Please do.