Revisiting Peter Jackson on giving old WWI footage new life

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A before and after image showing the original film on the right and the restored and colorized image on the left in a moment from Peter Jackson’s WWI documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old.” Photo credit: They Shall Not Grow Old

Last year’s WWI documentary "They Shall Not Grow Old" gave new life to some very old film footage.

It's a film from Peter Jackson -- the wizard who won three Oscars, including Best Picture for his final "Lord of the Rings" movie. "They Shall Not Grow Old" is a technological marvel. 

In the midst of awards season, the film is returning to theaters for three nights this December. 


Jackson took original archival footage of the daily life of British troops from 1914 through 1918, and restored it to a point where it feels absolutely modern.

He also colorized the film, bringing the soldiers to life. The film’s narration comes mostly from interviews with WWI veterans recorded by the BBC several decades after the war ended. 

While Jackson has built a production empire in his native New Zealand, last year we sat down with him on a visit to Beverly Hills. He told us about hiring forensic lip readers to interpret conversations captured on silent film so actors could perform the lines, and how the techniques used in "They Shall Not Grow Old" could be used on other old films, including some of his own.

Purchase tickets to "They Shall Not Grow Old."

Credits

Guest:
Peter Jackson - director, writer, producer

Host:
Kim Masters

Producer:
Kaitlin Parker