A stunning new film by Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson will bring the genuine faces and voices of the First World War into classrooms, thanks to a collaboration between Tes, the arts organisation 14-18 NOW and Imperial War Museums.
They Shall Not Grow Old has been created from footage and audio recordings from the Imperial War Museum and BBC archives.
The film, commissioned to mark the centenary of the First World War, repurposes the familiar grainy, black-and-white film using modern technology to create coloured, smooth, high definition visuals and also draws on 600 hours of audio interviews with veterans.
“This footage looks like it was shot in the last week or two,” Mr Jackson said in a filmed interview. “We are making this film that shows this incredible footage in which the faces of the men just jump out at you. It’s the faces, it’s the people that come to life in this film. It’s the human beings that were actually there – that were thrust into this extraordinary situation that defined their lives in many cases.”
The 99-minute film showing the reality of life in the trenches premiered this week, and has already gathered five-star reviews from the Guardian, Telegraph and the Radio Times.
The Guardian’s film critic Peter Bradshaw described it as “a visually staggering thought experiment: an immersive deep-dive into what it was like for ordinary British soldiers on the western front… the effect is electrifying”.
Watch the trailer for They Shall Not Grow Old
The film will be available on the Tes site and the website also includes linked resources for history, English and PSHE lessons.
Mr Jackson, who is best-known for his Lord of the Rings films, added: “I think you’ll find it a very useful resource in your school and it will give pupils around the UK a sense of what it was like to be in this war 100 years ago – not the perspective from today but the perspective from the people who were actually there.”
The film has been given a 15 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification.