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Derek Black

IWM & Peter Jackson Restore Film Footage - They Shall Not Grow Old

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Gunga Din

I used the word "agenda" to describe a chosen storyline; the film-maker's choice. It was clearly not a random series of film and audio clips cobbled together. They were deliberately selected, had structure and direction and one might reasonably assume the Director had an idea of the story he could tell with the available material. I call it an 'agenda' in the sense a board meeting has an agenda; an outline of the course the discussions will take....  call it what you will, it does not necessarily imply anything dark or sinister or complex other that the fact that it had structure and direction. 

 

I was rather thankful it avoided a number of hackneyed images of the Great War, particularly the War Poets. As Lord Flasheart said; " ..doesn't mean l'm not sick of this damn war; the blood, the noise and the endless poetry" so that was a huge bonus. I see Danny Boyle on the other hand couldn't resists the siren call of the poets and Wilfred Own in particular for his beaches project that provided nothing more than another distorted view of the Great War. I couldn't help notice Walter Tull was one of his choices too. One could have bet one's life that Kitchener was not on the short list, despite being the man at the helm of the greatest victories in British history. Quite predictable. A kind of Celebrity sand portraiture. It was an incredibly narrow focus and thankfully now washed away. As one author has commented the war is inaccessible as it it surrounded by a moat full of the pitying tears of poets. Jackson should be applauded for avoiding this poetic cliché.

 

The 'positive' theme was a surprise and a welcome one. Jackson clearly has had an epiphany since 2015 when his view was more aligned with the futility of war. I wonder if the IWM archive opened his eyes to a slightly more positive view of the participants that he chose to focus on as a counter to much of the handwringing. I can't argue with his choices as he only has a 60 minutes run to tell his story. I am sure if given the opportunity to make a 26 episode programme we would have learned a lot more. Let's hope future funding goes into projects like these rather than some of the rather ephemeral projects that are now washed away. 

 

GD

Edited by Gunga Din

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Garwood

No matter what...a great achievement by those who made it! ..and thankyou to all involved..not least the subjects of the footage !

`They shall not grow old `!!!

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Stuart T

A few thoughts:

 

Amazing technical and editing work.

Compelling viewing but too gory to watch again.

A horrible mangling of Binyon's words for the title (or did he think he quoted correctly?).

Nothing like the trailer which suggested that the whole thing was lip-synced.

Where's the rest of the War that was not France & Flanders?

 

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Black Maria

Personally I can't wait for the D.V.D so I can watch it again  . I saw it at the cinema , which was much better than viewing it on the small screen

but I missed things that I noticed when I watched it again and I really want to hear again what the veterans said as I couldn't quite catch some of

it on the two viewings . For someone who's main interest is the B.E.F on the Western Front it couldn't get much better for me .

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Stuart T

Try the i-player with the subtitles on?

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voltaire60

  I must disagree with our local water carrier, Gunga D.  This was not an attempt to fit the whole of the war into one bite-sized session. It was a skillful, interpretative and impressionistic attempt to give a view, based on visual and oral evidence, of the war from the point of view of an infantryman on the Western Front. Yes, of course  the director had an agenda- that driven by cost considerations and a director's shooting schedule, as well as the quality and extent of the base source materials available. I think the film's purpose was to whack the consciousness of the viewer so that it left a lasting impression- which it seems to have achieved, judging by the comments. I think the director's  personal agenda is disclosed at the very end of the film with the picture and details of his grandfather ( a DCM) and 2 others, whom I would guess are also family members. Thus, it can be seen as a slanted view of the Great War as I think it very well encapsulates how many of us have come to the Great War ourselves- through images and the voices of those who were there-which,I suggest, is the preponderant way we all have learned of the Great War at family level.

   I'm no cineaste -my limits of aesthetic analysis stop with the Fred Quimby "Tom and Jerry" cartoons-give me those and I am happy. But one other feature of the film  I think marks this as a piece of distinction. Jackson avoided any specific talking head interviews. The most memorable of the Great War visual stuff has used this formula- from the "Great War" series of the Sixties, through to the excellent "Game of Ghosts" in the Nineties and the more recent "Last Tommies".Jackson seems to have taken a John Bunyan approach to the film- it is the story of Mr. Everyman, with plenty of personality and individuality throughout but,in the end, giving an amalgam-a collective image. Thus, the film will become iconic as it breaks the format of icon that we have been used to.

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Black Maria
11 minutes ago, Stuart T said:

Try the i-player with the subtitles on?

:doh: ... Now that's a good idea !

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Derek Black
48 minutes ago, Stuart T said:

Nothing like the trailer which suggested that the whole thing was lip-synced.

Where's the rest of the War that was not France & Flanders?

 

It wasn't billed as a war encompassing documentary. Simply a selection of original footage cleaned up for the centenary.

In many of the interviews Jackson has given he states the IWM gave him no brief, just to use the footage as he saw fit in a new way.

 

Fully lip synced? Can't say i myself got that impression from any of the trailers, have you a link to one that does?


I'd love to see more of the 100 hours his team worked on, plus the interviews they sourced from the BBC archives of The Great War series that have never seen the light of day, he refers to them here: 5.09 - 5.21

 

 

Cheers,
Derek.

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Captain RHW

I agree with Derek. He had footage to work with and did the best he could. In no way was it supposed to have been a comprehensive survey of the war. 

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Stuart T

"Trailer" = news article on BBC website:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/entertainment-arts-45803977/peter-jackson-world-war-one-footage-brought-to-life-by-lord-of-the-rings-director

Admittedly (with hindsight), there is a small portion therein of audio memoirs over footage but virtually all of that clip suggests  colourisation and lip sync and nothing else.

 

No - I know there was no claim about it being "about the whole War", it is just a shame (perhaps more for the general public than enthusiasts) that there was no other coverage or mention.

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Captain RHW

Perhaps there might be a sequel covering other theatres? 

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Ex-boy

It would be good to think that, with the generally positive reception of the film, a sequel or several could be made in the near future. I'm sure all on this forum would be delighted.

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simond9x

If I recall the Q&A session after the showing in the cinema, he makes mention of other theatres of war (Gallipoli obviously being one close to his heart). He was given a budget for a film lasting under an hour..... he managed to spin it out to about 90 minutes. He said that, rather than skim thinly over the surface and try and include other theatres (Gallipoli, naval, etc) he thought it better to just focus on the Western Front (maybe because there is more original footage?) and try and tell the story of the soldiers' experience - using their voices and their images - not a story of the war itself. I very much doubt that there will be any follow-up but I too hope that the IWM finds some way of making the 100 hours available for us to see and not lock it away.

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seaJane

I would like to see more naval material ... would have liked to see more naval material all through the centenaries, of course :)

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Fattyowls

I was influenced in the way I watched it by the comments on this thread, for example I started to home in on the ubiquitous poppies on every patch of greenery. I also found myself looking at the teeth; but then some of the comments made in here have been dentist. I don't think there is any place for dentism on the forum, tooth be told.......:lol:

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hazelclark
6 minutes ago, Fattyowls said:

I was influenced in the way I watched it by the comments on this thread, for example I started to home in on the ubiquitous poppies on every patch of greenery. I also found myself looking at the teeth; but then some of the comments made in here have been dentist. I don't think there is any place for dentism on the forum, tooth be told.......:lol:

One could analyze the thing to death.  There are enough experts on this Forum to critique just about anything in WW1 to death.  Let’s just accept it for what it is, an outstanding piece of technology which enhanced our view of some aspects of the war, and with any luck encouraged a bit of interest in the general population.

 

Didn’t notice the poppies, but the TEETH!!  I live in North America where everyone ( if they didn’t grow up in Britain) has PERFECT teeth.

H.

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seaJane

I'm with you on the analysis, Hazel. Sometimes one just has to switch off the inner critic and let oneself go with the flow.

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Steven Broomfield

Mrs Broomfield and I watched it last night. No need for analysing - we thought it superb.

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gillchadwick
2 hours ago, Steven Broomfield said:

Mrs Broomfield and I watched it last night. No need for analysing - we thought it superb.

My thoughts exactly !

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Madmeg

really hoping this will become available for watching in NZ! Have seen the trailers and it looks fascinating. I believe his aim was simply t bring the men to life from the old movies- they didnt live their lives in black and white they lived in colour. They used lip readers to work out the actual conversations taking place during filming so they could put the men's words back in their mouths. And currently there is NO planned NZ release date :-( .Also hoping to get down to Wellywood to see the trench exhibition. Peter Jackson's last WW1 exhibition was stunning and incredibly moving. 

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Steven Broomfield

I noticed in yeterday's Times (on-line version) that an American release has been - unexpectedly - negotiated. This will mean not only a US release, but also an Oscar nomination, apparently.

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Stuart T

Simon, thanks for explanation of coverage.

Jane, agreed about the Navy but it's Palestine I'm really hankering after.

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jonbem
1 hour ago, Steven Broomfield said:

but also an Oscar nomination, apparently.

Hmmm? What category? Best Film in a foreign language? Only other I would think could be Visual Effects or Documentary.

Edited by jonbem

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Derek Black
2 hours ago, jonbem said:

Hmmm? What category? Best Film in a foreign language? Only other I would think could be Visual Effects or Documentary.


Could be sound editing or sound mixing?

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slick63

I was glued to the tv for the whole programme, must be the first time in a long time that the box has had me that enthralled. One part that caught my eye was the chaps walking past what looked like a destroyed bunker, one of the chaps was tapping the one in front on his steel helmet with a long stick as they walked along. It was so unexpected that it gave me a chuckle.

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