They Shall Not Grow Old

It is worth remembering the horror of World War I.

They Shall Not Grow OldTo begin with, I can only ask your consideration in failing to get this review out much earlier. In that regard, this film only played in Indianapolis on two dates, the last one being December 27 of last year. That was the day before I left for Costa Rica with family members early the next morning, so I was forced to put reviews on the back burner.

Nonetheless, this is at times a fascinating documentary that you really should try to hunt down and see. It is directed and produced by Peter Jackson, the fabulously talented Australian director who previously brought us The Lord of the Rings series. In this case, he and his team were able to take old footage from World War I that was kept in a British museum and restore it in a format that looks as if it was filmed by modern day cameras and equipment.

In the process, you are taken to the front lines of World War I and watch actual footage of British soldiers trying to survive in the trenches. You get to see their interaction, which includes a great deal of humor, as they woke up each morning not knowing if death would ring at their door.

While you historians will embrace this movie, the only problem is the sad fact that it becomes quite repetitive. It focuses on one battle, and you repeatedly see footage already displayed throughout the film. As a result, the film gets a bit long. But then again, so did a war where millions of European young men were killed.

I visited Europe a few years ago with three friends where we toured battlefields taking place in both World War I and II. I will never forget visiting Verdun, where hundreds of acres of fields are still pock-marked from the cannon barrage that took place on both sides for several months. There are places where you still see rifles sticking out of a hardened trench.

Finally, what you will never forget is seeing multiple cemeteries filled with crosses that are simply engraved “Unknown Soldier”. It is worth remembering that this war took place where Europe turned on itself and seemed to have lost its collective mind. After watching this movie and remembering this war, it is hard to accept that human beings are alleged to be the highest evolved form of life on earth.