‘Lord of the Rings’ director’s new documentary shows World War I as you’ve never seen it

Peter Jackson has released the first glimpse of his upcoming World War I documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old.

The Lord of the Rings director has selected never-before-seen archive footage from the vaults of the Imperial War Museum and the BBC.

His team has then been hand-colourising the original black and white footage and digitising it in 3D, restoring this exclusive material using the latest modern techniques.

Jackson commented: “I’ve always been fascinated by the First World War due to my own family history and the Centenary felt like a unique opportunity to make a personal contribution to the commemoration. I wanted to find a way to bring new life to the stories of ordinary people living through extraordinary times.”

He added: “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. By using our computing power to erase the technical limitations of 100 year cinema, we can see and hear the Great War as they experienced it.”

Watch Peter Jackson discuss the project in more detail:

They Shall Not Grow Old will receive its world premiere on 16 October at the BFI London Film Festival, with simultaneous screenings in cinemas across the UK.

The film is then expected be broadcast on BBC One later this year, accompanied by a behind-the-scenes ‘making of’ documentary.

Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival Artistic Director, said: “A hundred years after the First World War, we know much about the horrific impact of this conflict on its soldiers, especially the brutal scale of the casualties which decimated a generation, but Peter’s film offers new understanding of the human experience of life at the front.

“Using original audio and moving image archive he allows the soldiers to tell their own stories. The work his team have done on the materials, adding color and converting to 3D, is painstaking and beautiful. It makes these people from 100 years ago seem so alive and gives an uncanny sense the footage was shot recently.”

This November marks 100 years since the end of World War I.