Truth about the Trenches
The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson shares some surprising stories from British tommies…
Every November we stop to remember the soldiers who fought in World War One, but how much do we really know about what life was like on the Western Front?
In a film to mark a century since the end of the conflict,
The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has restored hours of footage to shed new light on trench warfare.
‘Nowadays we look at these guys with a lot of pity,’ says Peter. ‘We thought the war destroyed their lives, but most didn’t feel like that. We listened to interviews from the 1960s and 1970s and many soldiers said they enjoyed it, that it made men of them.’
The New Zealand director spent four years restoring old black-and-white film given to him by the Imperial War Museum, removing scratches, sharpening the images and adding colour. Yet the biggest breakthrough came when he adjusted the speed of the film.
Brought to life
‘The films we see of World
War One usually have soldiers walking around like Charlie Chaplin,’ says Peter. ‘But once you slow the film down they move like us. They become human beings again and their facial expressions come alive. The results were fantastic!’
Peter then added interviews from the soldiers, before dedicating the film to his British grandfather, who fought on the Western Front.
‘He died in 1940, so I never got to meet him,’ says Peter. ‘Making this film helped me understand what his life was like in the trenches. It brought me closer to him!’
Portal to the past… Peter Jackson restores filmfrom World War OnefactualThey Shall Not Grow OldSunday, 9.30pm BBc2 In living colour…British soldiers relax at the front