Monday, January 29, 2018

Peter Jackson's Passion for World War I Film

Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson, last week made international headlines when he announced a new documentary film based on a restoration of World War I footage from the collection of the Imperial War Museum.

The results will be shown in cinemas, broadcast by BBC One on Armistice Day November 2018, and a copy will be sent to every secondary school in Great Britain this autumn. The footage will be accompanied by interviews with veterans, some recorded half a century ago for the acclaimed 1964 BBC series The Great War.

Crossing the Line (2008) 

Jackson's passion for World War I film goes back to his early childhood. His grandfather was born in Britain. Jackson Sr. was a professional soldier who fought in the Great War and joined the ANZAC Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli. In 1916, he was transferred to the Western Front and went over the top at the Battle of the Somme. Peter Jackson never got to know his grandfather who passed away before he was born, but his special interest in preserving the memory of World War I has been with him for as long as he can remember. We have mentioned in an earlier weblog Jackson's work on restoring the historic footage that was taken of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli in 1915. His passion for World War I also shines through in Crossing the Line, a short film produced in 2008 that was originally intended as a collection of test shots for a new type of high res digital camera. Instead Jackson produced a stunning film on war at the Western Front, as seen from the air and the trenches. Unfortunately, Jackson never released the full movie online, but here is a link to the trailer. Watching this film makes you wish he expands on this project and produces a full-blown film on the First World War. The movie is simply amazing.

In 2015 Jackson also collaborated on a World War I exhibition in Wellington, New Zealand, and who would have guessed he has a unique collection of Great War fighter planes that can actually fly? Judging from the publicity, Jackson's collaboration with the Imperial War Museum and the BBC for the upcoming documentary promises to be something quite extraordinary.

For those of you who would like to know more about Jackson's interest in World War I, here is a personal interview by a New Zealand TV channel that was broadcasted in October 2014.



On September 28, 2018, the trailer of Jackson's World War I film They Shall Not Grow Old was released online. The film will have its first exhibition at the British Film Institute next October and will be broadcasted later this year by the BBC.

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