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They shall not grow old

They shall not grow old

Großbritannien/Neuseeland 2019

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Originaltitel:They shall not grow old
Regie:Peter Jackson
Produktionsland:Großbritannien/Neuseeland 2019
Laufzeit:Approx. 99 min.
FSK:From 16 years
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There are countless films and documentaries about the Second World War. But the conflict that shook the world between 1914 and 1918 is far less material. The same applies here: Knowledge is important - against oblivion! But during the First World War, technology was still in its infancy, so that there are comparatively few black-and-white recordings without sound in the archives. Young people in particular, who see such pictures, perceive this as a completely different world, which has nothing to do with the world in which they live. And this, even though the war was only 100 years ago. Oscar winner Peter Jackson and his team have set themselves the task of breaking down the barrier that is inevitably created by the quality of the film footage, using state-of-the-art techniques. The result is called "They shall not grow old", a technically impressive and profoundly human documentary about the life of young soldiers in a senseless war...

Actually, the whole thing was only a 30-minute commissioned work on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Versailles Peace Treaty (June 28, 1919). But Jackson was so impressed by the footage and what his team was able to get out of it that he joined forces to create a feature-length documentary with a mini-budget for a short film. The restored sequences were first carefully selected from hundreds of hours of original footage from World War I from the archives of the British Imperial War Museum (IWM). Afterwards the image was stabilized and cleaned before we started to improve the sharpness level many times over. The images were then colored and converted using 3D technology. Lip readers reconstructed what the men said on the old film footage, which was then dubbed by British actors. The whole thing is accompanied by original commentaries from the archives of the BBC, which veterans of the First World War have spoken in.  

Thereby a gripping, shocking, but in places also surprising representation of the First World War has succeeded, as one has so really never seen it before. Jackson himself said that his goal was to give the images back their humanity. And he did a great job of it. At the beginning the often very young men are completely fascinated by the camera, smile and wave as they prepare for the fight in the trenches. But at the latest when they have experienced the horror of war, they completely forget that the big box is filming them. Now it's all about bare survival - and the audience can really feel it. 

There is a moment when "They shall not grow old" reveals the complete senselessness of war in a really impressive way: When in the field hospital German and British soldiers fight side by side for the survival of their chamberades, but also of their enemies, it becomes clear that it was not those who had to resolve the conflict and often had to pay with their lives who wanted this war. It is precisely because of such moments that this documentary is an important film that should become a compulsory programme in schools. Jackson himself hopes that he has done the technical groundwork to restore many more archive recordings - not only from the First World War - and make them accessible to the general public. Heavy food, but definitely worth seeing!

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