“They Shall Not Grow Old” is a marvelous movie to see. It is a WWI documentary, but unlike any documentary I have ever seen.
It is essentially old WWI films, enhanced and colorized, coupled with some poignant narration from the point of view of the soldiers who did the fighting. It traces the experience of soldiers in the trenches of WWI, starting with the joining-up process, through training, shipping to France, arriving in France and marching to the front. It describes life in the trenches, preparing for a charge from the trenches, making the actual charge, returning from the charge with German prisoners, and finally transport back to England and the soldiers’ return to civilian life. The movie is heartbreaking and pulls no punches. Several members of the audience left midway through, most likely unable to watch the incredible, vivid carnage.
The technology is magnificent. Very old film is enhanced, colorized, slowed down, to make it seem like this was happening today. As I left the theater, what struck me most was the sound. I can only recall being so impressed by the sound in a movie one time, during the landing scenes in “Saving Private Ryan”. The voices sounded like they were standing on the stage speaking to me, and when there was some singing involved, particularly at the end of the movie, it was beautifully done.
This movie was exceptional at every step, from the concept to the execution. It is not for the faint of heart, but viewing it was a fantastic experience. I don’t believe I can recommend a film any higher than this one. If you know what you are walking into, this film is something to see.