Wartime movie in colour
As Armistice Day approaches, Peter Jackson has produced a documentary film that could be his finest contribution to the four-year commemoration.
The production, They Shall Not Grow Old, premiered in London to good reviews and plays in Stratford this Sunday.
Reviewers talk about how much more immediate the war seems, unlike the fading grey tones of archive film. They notice the youth of the soldiers. With faces fleshtoned rather than grey, audiences will be moved by the realisation that those who went, fought and died for their country were young. It sounds like a fitting climax to the centenary, a thundering reminder of how terrible that war was. New Zealand made much of the Gallipoli centenary in 2015 and recalled the Somme in 2016 and Passchendaele a year ago. But every time it became hard to sustain interest in events of horror, it was a reminder of how much harder it must have been for those alive at the time, living with the horror and not knowing when it would end. It will soon be the centenary of the end, November 11, Armistice Day. If it is proving hard to give due thought to the war’s last centenary, that response is historically fitting. Historians tell us the armistice was not greeted with the scenes of public jubilation familiar from newsreels of World War II conclusions. People were too exhausted, too depleted, too many men were maimed, too many were not coming back. And an armistice did not sound conclusive. It lasted only 20 years. But the second war would not be the same. Jackson is giving World War I’s centenary a fitting conclusion that might never fade.
Helen Lindley, manager of the TET Kings Theatre in Stratford, says she is delighted They Shall Not Grow Old will screen at the theatre this Sunday on Armistice day itself.
“Stratford has, through its own war hero Lieutenant Colonel William Malone, a very special connection with the war, and so it is fitting we screen this movie on November 11.”
The movie is likely to be popular, says Helen, so presales will be available as well as door sales on the day.
The theatre team is providing free tea and coffee at all movie screenings and will be available at the showing of They Shall Not Grow Old as well.
When Helen first took on the role of manager, she told the Stratford Press she was keen to bring a range of films to Stratford. She says as well as this movie, she has also arranged to show She Shears later this year. This was not originally a movie they had booked to come here, but after being approached by members of a Rural Women’s group, Helen secured it.
“I am really pleased people are telling us what movies they want here and I want people to know we are definitely listening.”
■ They Shall Not Grow Old screens at Stratford’s TET Kings Theatre at 2pm on November 11. Rating: RP16 (Graphic content may disturb). Run Time: 99 minutes.
They Shall Not Grow Old plays in Stratford on Armistice Day.