Oscar-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson‘s latest labor of love, which he made for free, is the World War I documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old. The stunning technological and historical achievement documents the lives of soldiers fighting in World War I brought to life using archival historical footage restored to near high-definition standards, complete with hand-colorized updates. The WingNut Films production, complimented with archival material provided by the BBC and London’s Imperial War Museum, will be making its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival followed by a U.K.-wide release of the 2D/3D film by Trafalgar Releasing on that same day, October 16th.
The film is part of the World War I centenary’s official program of cultural events known as “14-18 NOW”, funded by contributions from the British lottery, the government’s department of culture, and the Arts Council. They Shall Not Grow Old will also be distributed to all of Britain’s secondary schools after release. You can get an early look at the incredible restoration of these 100-year-old film strips in the first trailer for the documentary, along with commentary from Jackson himself.
Take a look at the impressive first trailer for They Shall Not Grow Old below (via BBC):
In the above first look, Jackson confirmed that though computer technology may have smoothed the transitions between the frames of the old film strips, none of the visual material presented was created by the production team. Instead, the century-old film stills have been restored and colorized, with modern audio filing in the sensory gaps and, perhaps most interestingly of all, professional lip-readers weighing in on what they believe the soldiers’ dialogue to be, along with actors lending their voices to the brave members of this formerly black-and-white generation to bring them back to life. Impressive stuff.
Here’s what Jackson had to say about the project, earlier this year:
“We’re making a film [that is] not the usual film you would expect on the First World War. We’re making a film that shows this incredible footage in which the faces of the men just jump out at you. It’s the people that come to life in this film.”