Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Giving the Fallen back their voices

Giving the Fallen back their voices

WITH the centenary of the end of the First World War fast approaching, the film director Peter Jackson has hit on an extraordinary way to mark the occasion.

Best known for directing The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jackson has created a new film using original footage from the Imperial War Museum’s extensive archive — much of it previously unseen — alongside BBC and IWM interviews with servicemen who fought in the conflict.

The footage has been colourised, converted to 3D and transformed with modern production techniques to present never before seen detail.

In doing so, the director brings to life the people who can best tell this story — the men who were there.

After months immersed in the archives, narratives and strategies for how best to tell this story began to emerge for Jackson.

Using the voices of the men involved, the film explores the reality of war on the front line — their attitudes to the conflict, how they ate, slept and formed friendships, as well as what their lives were like away from the trenches during their periods of downtime.

Jackson and his team have used cutting-edge techniques to make the images of a century ago appear as if they were shot yesterday. The transformation from black and white to colourised footage can be seen throughout the film, revealing never before seen details.

Reaching back into the mists of time — including with the help of present-day lip-readers — Jackson aims to give these men voices, investigate the hopes and fears of the veterans, and chronicle the humility and humanity that represented a generation changed forever by a global war.

The film had its premiere on Tuesday at the BFI London Film Festival before an audience that included the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William.

Speaking on the red carpet, Jackson told Forces TV: “The point of the film is that the war was not that long ago. Most people in Britain and the old Empire — Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa — have got family that were in that war, great-grandfathers or great-uncles.

“It was not that long ago and I think it’s great if we can just pause for a moment and actually think about them for a bit because they are part of our family, part of us. We still carry the DNA that they had.

“Let’s just pause in our modern lives for a moment and think about what they went through.”

After screenings around the country sold out on Tuesday night, the film’s makers have announced an extended cinema run nationwide.

In Henley, the film is showing at the Regal Picturehouse cinema on Thursday (October 25) at 6.10pm and at noon on Tuesday, October 30.

For more information, visit www.iwm.org.uk

Matthew Wilson

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