They Shall Not Grow Old is a 2018 documentary produced by Peter Jackson which debuted last year on the BBC on the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of November 11 1918. Now available for viewing in North America, the film was created using original WW1 footage from the Imperial War Museum’s archives. Most of the video has been colorized and transformed with modern techniques and sound effects to better reveal the soldier’s experiences, rather than the sped up blurred clips of vintage newsreels. Intended to be an immersive experience of “what it was like to be a soldier”, the film crew reviewed 100 hours of original film footage and 600 hours of interviews from over 200 veterans to make the film, including audio from 120 of them talking about their war memories. The director Peter Jackson, dedicated the film to his British paternal grandfather who fought in the war. The title was inspired by the line, “They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old” from the 1914 poem, “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon, which is often quoted on Remembrance Day, especially the famous fourth stanza. The poem was written in Sept 1914 in the early days of the war when the first deaths were being reported…..there would be millions to follow.
The Movie Trailer
Note: I have not actually seen the movie yet, but have it on reserve at the library. (Edited to add – it was powerful and moving to watch these young men go off to war as if on a grand adventure and to see the actual footage of the sad reality – I really have no words.)
I have blogged before about my Uncle Charlie WW1 Vet. Like many of his generation, he never talked about his war experiences, other than being gassed and convalescing for six months with the Spanish Flu before being shipped home, but I have tried to reconstruct his war journey through his WW1 memorabilia. (link – Uncle Charlie WW1 Vet)
Being the faithful library patron that I am, the staff requested one of my mother’s paintings (above) for their Remembrance Day display. I spied this book on the shelf and skimmed through it. It’s quite gruesome in parts, so not for the faint of heart – but that is the reality of war.
A collection of of personal WW1 diaries and letters, this book is an an unforgettable read for history lovers. Lest We Forget.
For the Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.