That movie has been hyped so much that when I finally got to see it I was rather disappointed. It is not really a documentary as the picture are shown as it is without any context (places, dates or names). It is just footage of the First World War (the war to end all wars they said, but it ended up being the most useless, senseless war of all time) with voiceover by survivors who describe their experience. Not all footage has been restored, retimed and colourized — but most of it. And I am wondering when those testimonies were recorded — as the voice sounded like old men and the recording seems of pretty good quality, so it must have been done at a time when they already had good equipment, although the sound had probably been restored the same way the pictures were. Both the original footage and the audio recording of the British soldiers come from the archives of the Imperial War Museum and the BBC.
All in all, the movie is still pretty interesting as it give us the chance to witness the Great War in colour, as it was experienced by the men who fought it. It gives a really good impression of what it must have felt like. The war is not an impersonal historical event anymore as we get closer to the soldiers. It is a fit tribute for the 100th anniversary of the end of the war. I was expecting more visually, but Peter Jackson’s team did a really good work (it’s a great technological feat to gather, edit and restore all this footage) and it is therefore a must-see movie. Through this those young men will indeed never grow old and hopefully such horror will never be repeated.
The movie was shown on the BBC and is already available on Blu-ray & DVD in U.K.. It was shown in theatre for one day in North America and hopefully will be picked up for broadcast (Netflix? Amazon?) and released in DVD/Blu-ray soon. The critical response was very positive (8.6 on IMDb and 98% on Rotten Tomatoes).
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