London museum partners with Peter Jackson to produce First World War film

A museum in South London has commissioned internationally acclaimed filmmaker Peter Jackson and WingNut Films to create a project in commemoration of the First World War centenary.

Entitled ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’, Lambeth’s Imperial War Museum has also partnered with 14-18 Now (an arts project launched specifically for the centenary) to produce the film, for which original archived footage was remastered, colourised, and paired with dialogue.

In a press release issued by the museum, Jackson said: “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.”

The film features never-before-seen archival footage of scenes from the First World War, which have been hand-colourised and transformed into full 3D. They also feature original audio as well as newly recorded dialogue and sound design.

According to the museum, Jackson spent months immersing himself in the footage and audio, exploring different perspectives and experimenting with contemporary production techniques,  achieving an output that is “as impactful today as it would have been when originally presented in cinemas to a wartime audience”.

Included in the press release were comments from IWM Director-General Diane Lees, who said: “This innovative new production will bring to life the stories of those who lived, fought and died during the First World War, as well as revealing never-before-seen footage from IWM’s film archive from more than 100 years ago.”

Director of 14-18 Now Jenny Waldman hailed the project as a “ground-breaking production”, and a “visionary resource”.

The footage has been distributed to UK secondary schools for educational use during the 2018 Autumn term and was accompanied by various learning materials. BBC Director of Content Charlotte Moore said the film would “bring unheard voices from a hundred years ago to life for a whole new generation to experience”.

They Shall Not Grow Old officially premiered at the BFI London Film Festival on October 16 and was subsequently screened at various locations throughout the UK.

The film was then shown on BBC Two on November 11 to mark armistice day.

More cinema screenings and TV showings are expected in the coming months.

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