By: John Moore, Head of History

On Tuesday 16th October, the Sixth Form History Society travelled to Aldeburgh cinema for the world premiere showing of the film ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’. This is Hollywood director Peter Jackson’s (Lord of the Rings) treatment of original First World War footage.

It was an incredible experience. By ‘colourising’ the old black and white footage and slowing it down to realistic speeds, Jackson had succeeded in his aim in ‘bringing the soldiers back to life’. The immersive experience was further enhanced in being able to hear what the soldiers were actually saying – possible because of the directors use of lip reading to dub in the spoken words.

Narrative voice overs (illuminating and poignant first hand accounts of veterans of the Western front) took us through the course of the war, from the excitement of 1914, through the horrors of the trenches, to the relief, bewilderment and exhaustion of 1918.

I would strongly recommend that you watch the film when the BBC air it on Armistice Day. I am delighted that all secondary schools in the UK will receive a DVD. This seminal work is sure to play a major role in the teaching and learning of the First World War from now on.

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