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They Shall Not Grow Old

Director:  Peter Jackson
Year Released:  2018
Rating:  3.0

Director Jackson - best known for his big fantasy epics - gets permission from the Imperial War Museum to rummage through their archives - a lot of which was previously unseen by the public - and reconstruct a narrative about what it was like to be a soldier during World War I (which his grandfather fought in). Normally, the idea of colorizing and digitally altering old footage might be seen as heresy, but the end result is not only respectful but in doing so also emphasizes the horror of war, with those mounting corpses - riddled with bullets or mutilated - serving as a reminder that combat should always be a last resort. The audio, too, was methodically pieced together from interviews with former soldiers in what must have taken a very, very long time to assemble: the personal stories about lack of sanitation (wiping with their hands?) and admiration for the Germans (!) and how they spent their down time (when not crawling around the trenches) are riveting. To get the perspective of Germans on the "other side," I recommend Ernst Jünger's Storm of Steel, which also talks about the brutality of war (although Jünger, controversially, gets a little gung-ho about it).

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