They Shall Not Grow Old – a WW1 Documentary

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.   

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)

Poppies - AMc

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 Broken World: Letters, Diaries and Memories of the Great WarA Broken World: Letters, Diaries and Memories of the Great War by Sebastian Faulks

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.

19 thoughts on “They Shall Not Grow Old – a WW1 Documentary

  1. Eilene Lyon says:

    On a recent flight this film was on offer. I really wanted to see the footage that had been colorized and given natural pacing (which was amazing!), but the reality of the horror kept me from watching the whole thing (it truly is gruesome).

    One thing that strikes you in the early part of the film (the interviews with survivors) was that many were underage, extremely eager to go to war, and did not regret their participation in it, despite everything. Astonishing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Eilene for your thoughts. I found that with the book I reviewed too – so gruesome I could only skim through it. I watched a W5 Canadian news show tonight where they interviewed two 94yr old vets and they said the same thing – they did not regret anything. Different times I guess. I wouldn’t think any 15-17 year old now would be mature enough to handle all that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. J P says:

    My Mrs and I saw it in a theater not quite a year ago. I found it riviting. They worked miracles with the film, it was amazing to watch those guys of 100 years ago look like they could be alive today.

    It was indeed a war with a special kind of brutality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks for your thoughts JP. I’ve not seen it advertised in any theatre here, but the library assures me they have copies on order. As I have all of my uncles WW1 memorabilia – paybooks, German postcards, medals etc, it holds a special interest for me, so I am anxious to see it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. lindasschaub says:

    This was an interesting post, and that was a powerful preview Joni. The young boys, so very young, and so happy to be there, dapper in their uniforms, with their comrades who were equally young, then moments later you’re watching the walking wounded. I am sure the book is just as graphic. My father was in WWII, and went into the German Army as a teenager, didn’t even shave yet. He read every book, saw every movie about WWII and talked a lot about days on end in the trenches and the tanks. His hobby was building dioramas of model tanks on a battlefield. He spent hours on end doing this and exhibiting them at military shows. I like your mom’s painting of the poppies. I remember your post featuring your uncle Charlie. I recall it was a lot of hard work to create that post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I bet your father had some interesting stories to tell. I decided to post re the film, even though I haven’t seen it yet (not sure why it hasn’t come in at the library but sometimes they have budget problems), as maybe someone else would be interested in it. One of my high school friends father served in WW2 on a Canadian navy destroyer, and captured some German soldiers from a submarine. Fifty years later he went over to Germany and spent a week with the commander and some of the POWs they had captured – it seems strange, but they became friends. Of course there was lots of evil in Germany, but how many ordinary people were just caught up in it and afraid to speak up. It reminds me a bit of the political climate today – when bad behaviour becomes the new normal people just shrug and look away…..

      Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        It is strange they became friends, but look what happens during a cease fire and the opposite sides reach across and shake hands on Christmas or a holiday when they declare a cease fire. Yes, the morale and political climate today are really abysmal.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        War is weird period. I think if there were more female leaders you’d see less war, as if you give life your not as inclined to take it away. Plus in some of those war-torn countries, life means nothing. I’ve been watching a lot of CNN at my mom’s and finding every day it just gets more and more ridiculous. It seems like there’s no sense of ethics, honor or rightness in the world anymore, only greed, lies and bullying.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Yes, it is so senseless, so much of it and often they go into villages or towns and the women and children die needlessly. My father would talk of German tanks (they were called Panzerwagans … that is what he built) mowing down farms, houses, people – they decimated everything in their sight.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ally Bean says:

    My father always referred to Nov 11 as Armistice Day. He never called it Veteran’s Day. In retrospect I realize he was more influenced by the horrors of WWI than any of us, so he showed respect to the fallen by sticking with that way of referring to the day. I appreciate you sharing the poem here. It’s been years since I read it all. What a world, past and [sadly] present.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks for reading Ally! I have no hope of every getting caught up here on Reader unless we get a snowstorm or two! It has become a broken world again I think…such a lack of human decency and kindness and so much conflict and cruelty in so many countries.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. annieasksyou says:

    I’m not sure why, but I’d heard nothing about this documentary, which is clearly worth seeing even if one must shield her eyes in spots. I also didn’t realize how young some of the soldiers were. And this was “the war to end all wars.” If only that maxim had held true.

    Wars are still fought inequitably: without a draft, the soldiers are those who have few options and think military service is a way out of poor circumstances. At least that’s the case in the US.

    Your Uncle Charlie overview was extraordinary, and kudos to you for the time you invested in this familial historic preservation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I wasn’t aware of the film either Annie until this summer when I saw it mentioned on someone’s blog who had a relative in WW1. JP said he saw it and found it riveting so it must be out in the US, although it certainly wasn’t publicized much. I ordered it in the summer, not sure why it hasn’t come in yet, other than budgetary problems. I enjoyed doing the blog on Uncle Charlie and tracing his steps during the war. He married my paternal grandmother’s sister after the war, and they had twin daughters, one died in childbirth, and the other never married, so as my dad was her cousin he ended up cleaning up her house and estate, so that’s how I came into possession of his war memorabilia. I don’t think anyone else in the family was interested in them. We don’t have as big an army here in Canada, but they will pay for educational training, if you stay in for so many years after. We have had a big snowstorm, early for us, so I may have time to read here this week and try and get caught up. It will an important week in US politics.

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  6. annieasksyou says:

    Yes; it will be an important few weeks. The first two witnesses, yesterday, were impeccable foreign service people with nonpartisan careers who stuck to the facts. Their testimony will be persuasive to anyone who cares to listen, I believe. How many people are in that category is the big, scary question.

    I hope your reading time will include my latest post: “How One Woman’s Breast Cancer Experience May Revolutionize Cancer Care.” I think the story on which it’s based is remarkable, and I think of you and your medical background when I’ve written such posts.

    Also hope you and your mom are well beyond your recent setbacks.

    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      My reading time will include ALL your posts Annie! I intend to have a system where I will go back and read all my favorite bloggers posts, (about ten I follow regularly) but so far the only one I’ve done is JP, skipping the jazz of course, as I hate jazz and he knows that. Mom is much better and all her bloodwork was back to normal, but at 93 I’m keeping a close eye on her, and am still going back and forth every day, although I’m back to sleeping in my own bed. I wish I had internet there as I could get lots read. My cold is better too, still coughing a bit, but my energy level is back to normal – it was a rough six weeks. They addressed that exact point tonight on CNN – how to get the message across that this is an important issue when many people say they don’t have the time to watch TV or read newspapers. Tomorrow Friday should be interesting, (I’m cooking a turkey breast as my mom is on a low-fat diet now so I’ll be able to watch it while I’m there), plus I hear another witness has come forward to be interviewed behind closed doors on Saturday. Hopefully there will be a domino effect. I admire and sympathize with people who have the courage to speak up in difficult times, as I have been in a few “ethical” work situations over the years where if you are the whistleblower you are treated like the enemy. Most people just want to stay under the radar and ignore things. But what is that saying, “The only way for evil to prevail is for good people to sit by and say nothing.”

      Like

  7. annieasksyou says:

    Glad your life is returning to normal. Your mom seems very resilient at 93— May she remain so!

    I look forward to your comments whenever it’s convenient for you, and I’m very grateful that I’m on your fave list—ditto for that.

    The Dems are getting smarter using the word bribery, I think. Not so many Americans moved by quid pro quo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Yes she is very good for her age and bounced back as soon as they got her on the right antibiotic. I read an interesting article tonight on the growing problem of super-resistant bugs. I am one of the few who knows a bit of Latin (from reading prescriptions) but yes bribery is a much better word!

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