They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)

Peter Jackson directs original footage of World War I from the Imperial War Museum’s archives to create a rememberance of the experience of going to war in 1914.

A wonderful kaleidoscope of memories and images. Jackson tries to recreate the universal experience of a British soldier in the trenches, rather than getting caught up on specific battles or biographies. The effect is mesmerising and touching, often humorous but decent and respectful. The one niggle (and it is a slight one) is the film isn’t outwardly anti-war. It deals with the horrors matter of factly and skirts over the moral quagmire lightly. Jackson doesn’t want to cheapen a generation’s sacrifice nor exploit it for modern concerns. But you do walk away wondering whether it is retrospective patriotic proganda, normalising hellish conflict and immunising the schoolkids watching it that being blindly taken into a half decade long massacre by political leaders is a boy’s own adventure that should not be questioned. Overall, though, a reverential triumph.


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