LOTR director Peter Jackson restores WWI footage for new documentary, "They Shall Not Grow Old."*

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Matt W., Oct 5, 2018.

  1. The Hud

    The Hud Just add water

    I went to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in 3D. When the 3D previews came on, I put my glasses on, but the image was wonky and kind of painful. After awhile, I went to go find someone to see if something was wrong with the projector, when I noticed a bin of 3D glasses outside the theater that looked different than mine. Turns out the guy who gave me glasses after I showed him my ticket gave me 3D IMAX glasses, and I needed the regular 3D glasses. I didn't know there were 2 types of glasses. Luckily, I figured all this out before the movie started.
  2. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Out AMC theater keeps the glasses on a folding table in the lobby. You just pick up a pair before going into the movie, if someone has not already given them to you.

    I had grabbed a pair for the last 3D movie I saw. They barely fit my head, then I realized that they were children's glasses. I picked up another pair.
    carrick doone, longdist01 and The Hud like this.
  3. NickCarraway

    NickCarraway Forum Resident

    Gastonia, NC
    If 80 minutes in a theater was "too much", imagine 18 months (US soldiers) or 4 years (British/French/German/etc. soldiers) actually living it.
  4. EddieMann

    EddieMann I used to be a king...

    Geneva, IL. USA.
    Nice interview this morning with Peter on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
  5. Lightworker

    Lightworker Forum Resident

    Deep Texas
    I couldn't get through ten minutes of Morning Joe even if they were interviewing Jimi Hendrix,
    Arthur Lee and Jim Morrison together (and alive-alive-oh).
  6. EddieMann

    EddieMann I used to be a king...

    Geneva, IL. USA.
    Thanks for your input. ;)
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  7. longdist01

    longdist01 Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL USA
  8. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    From the article:

    They Shall Not Grow Old is obviously one of the best films of 2018, but I didn’t see it until this week; it proved unusually elusive. Instead of the usual open-ended theatrical release, it was previously booked in theaters only as a special event on selected individual dates (December 17 and 27 and January 21). Moreover, DVD screeners were not sent to critics, a break with the usual practice for an awards-caliber film. On February 1, though, the film finally received a conventional release and is playing on more than 700 screens. Don’t miss it.
    One of the sad parts of the whole awards business is that nominations are dependent on expensive campaigns. Absent "For Your Consideration" ads in trade papers, screenings for Academy members, DVD screeners mailed to every member...a film is not going to be nominated.

    Here are the films nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar:

    “Free Solo,” Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
    “Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” RaMell Ross
    “Minding the Gap,” Bing Liu
    “Of Fathers and Sons,” Talal Derki
    “RBG,” Betsy West, Julie Cohen

    Were all five of those films better than They Shall Not Grow Old? Only two of the list got any sort of wide release, Free Solo and RBG. I'm a huge documentary fan who sees more than a hundred films in the theater every year, and They Shall Not Grow Old was the best documentary I've seen in a decade. The second best was Three Identical Strangers.

    I'm getting the impression that the old doc cadre has regained power, like when Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision beat Hoop Dreams because there was a small group that traded the award among themselves.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
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  9. dprokopy

    dprokopy Forum Resident

    Near Seattle, WA
    This was a BBC documentary, wasn't it? Did it air on the BBC before its initial theatrical showings? Maybe that disqualified it.
    Chris DeVoe likes this.
  10. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    In terms of the history conveyed in "Old", I'd give it an "A". The interviews with the former soldiers were excellent and conveyed a great impression of their lives during war and the toll the battles took.

    In terms of a visual presentation, though, I'd give "Old" a "D". I hated hated hated hated hated the colorization used - it looked consistently unrealistic and became a distraction.

    People talk about how much colorization has improved over the years. Yeah, I guess it's better than in the 80s Ted Turner days, but the hues still don't look vaguely realistic. Mostly we get a smeary sense of brown and green, with no tones that seem true to life.

    Honestly, the colorization became an active distraction for me. I found it harder to invest in the stories because the visuals were so ugly.

    It didn't help that various artifacts came along for the ride. Those often made faces look computer generated and simply odd.

    As I watched the film, I thought maybe that's just the best they could do with the source, colorization or not - and then I watched the post-film documentary and saw how the footage looked in its restored black and white state. That material looked amazing - the B&W shots shown during the doc were tight as a drum and really brought the material to life.

    I'd love a B&W version of the film, as it'd look so much better without the terrible fake color in the mix.

    Also, I disliked the added sound. All the phony elements - the looped dialogue, the effects - failed to connect to the material. It all felt "canned" and fake, so these components made it even tougher for me to invest in the project.

    This all seems ironic. Jackson uses the colorization, sound effects and dialogue to bring history to life, but all it does it detach me from the human stories.

    If "Old" had been restored black and white and used audio that consisted solely of the soldiers' memories plus gentle score, I'd have loved it. But all those technological gimmicks alienated me from the basic information and material...
  11. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    Quite possibly. I'm not sure what the rules are about prior TV screenings.

    The color looked fine to me, and didn't cause additional artifacts like the speed changes did. The dubbing and Foley were excellent and really brought everything to life. I'm totally with Peter Jackson in that the war wasn't fought in silence or monochrome, and showing the red blood they shed honors their sacrifice.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
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  12. adm62

    adm62 Forum Resident

    Toronto, Canada
    Couldn't disagree more. The colorisation and added dialogue made the movie. The point when it switches was a jaw dropping moment. A monumental, moving achievement that is still affecting me weeks later.
  13. dewey02

    dewey02 Forum Resident

    The mid-South.
    Nothing wrong with what you like.
    For many others, however...the real world is in color, the war actually happened in color and war is not always in brilliant color. So this effort by Jackson gave a better approximation and appreciation of what it may have looked like. One thing is certain, it sure didn't look like it does in those amazing black and white material.

    But like I said, it is perfectly understandable that you prefer B&W. Others prefer the artificial colorization.
    longdist01 likes this.
  14. dprokopy

    dprokopy Forum Resident

    Near Seattle, WA
    The colorization wasn't perfect, I agree. There still seemed to be patches that were still grey - perhaps they determined whatever those elements were, were actually grey, but it still looked odd.

    The problem with colorization is that ultimate you're still "painting" colors on top of different shades of grey. So you might find the right skin tone for someone, but you're still ultimately overlaying it on top of a light grey imagine, so it still comes off as somewhat ashen and artificial-looking. I'm sure they adjust for that somehow, but it's never quite perfect. I noticed the same issue with the colorization in Eight Days a Week.

    Having said that, I still commend the lengths Jackson went through to get everything as authentic as possible. If you watch the accompanying documentary, he has a huge collection of original WWI uniforms that he used to color-match what's in the movie has closely as possible. And he used those uniforms to determine where the soldiers originally came from, and hired actors from those areas to get the correct accents and dialects to match (after also hiring professional lip-readers to determine what they were probably saying).

    I think the absolute best thing he was able to do, though, was to get the correct speed, correct the exposure and contrast, and stabilize the images. The problem with film footage from that era is that it's almost always played back too fast, which gives everyone a rather cartoonish, slapstick appearance. The simple act of slowing it down to a more natural, human pace instantly made these people more real and vivid.
  15. dkmonroe

    dkmonroe A completely self-taught idiot

    Does anyone know when this is likely to get a USA release on Blu-ray? I've noticed PAL and Region 0 discs for sale out there but I don't do PAL and suspect the Region 0 discs are probably boots.
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  16. dewey02

    dewey02 Forum Resident

    The mid-South.
    The colorization on Eight Days a Week was horrible. And there was really no need for it, as there was plenty of performances in color, and others remained in B&W. So what was the point? I think the Ted Turner colorization in the 1980's was better than what was done on 8DAW. Ringo's cymbals were especially bad.
    Lightworker likes this.
  17. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    I've never seen colorization that looks real to me. Apparently a lot of people think the color in "Old" looks great, but I don't get it - at no point did I think I was watching actual color material, as it always seemed phony.

    The B&W footage in the post-movie documentary looked amazing!

    I agree that Pete did a great job with his attempts to make things accurate - I obviously just couldn't get past all the technical mucking around.

    Gotta admit I find it surprising that so many people are A-OK with the colorization of "Old" whereas they cry foul when feature films are colorized. The argument that "real life is in color" doesn't work for one B&W movie but not another...
  18. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    No announcement but I'm 100% sure there'll be a Blu-ray in the US.

    Might not be a 3D US version, though Warner still sorta supports the format, so there's a shot at one...
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  19. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    People forget, that many earlier films were hand colored and then there were early commercial color processes.

    I think that PJ's colorization did lend itself to an earlier period, rather than an attempt at modern colorization.

    I do agree that the images that we see from the post documentary were really excellent in B&W after their restoration.

    I think that I would be fine with an all B&W version. But then, I am someone who is not opposed to older B&W movies and foreign films with English subtitles.

    The problem is, that many people will not watch a movie if it has subtitles or a B&W movie at all.

    So, your kink of caught between a rock and a hard place, creative wise on this.

    I didn't have any issues with the added sound, you need sound to keep people immersed in the production. Watching movies with out sound makes it hard to keep me in the moment, unless there are subtitles. Still there needs to be ambient sound present to fill in the dialog and keep you with the visuals.

    Take the sound effects track out of the original Star Wars and there would have never been a sequel, let alone nine of them.

    See below!

    Both are workable.
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  20. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    I 100% agree that the gimmicks are the reason why this movie is drawing an audience. If Pete hadn't gone with the colorization/3D/sound effects, it'd be "just another documentary" and it'd bring a much smaller crowd.

    That doesn't mean I have to like the gimmicks, though! :D

    I don't advocate a silent version. I would prefer a version with the interviews - which ran almost non-stop - along with score.

    I'd be fine with some semi-subdued sound effects as well - those weren't the biggest distraction.

    The looped chatter was a bigger issue for me, as it sounded so canned - because it was.

    Anyway, it's the colorization that was my main concern here. While I didn't care for the audio - and thought the 3D added nothing - it was the ugly, unrealistic colors that created the biggest distraction for me...
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  21. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    It's not brilliant color that's the issue - it's accurate color. Not smeared greens and browns.

    Anyway, you're wrong about the war happening in color:

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  22. E.Baba

    E.Baba Forum Resident

    It was a useless bloodbath.

    Every town here has a memorial. The number of Australians who died for the British Empire was very high per head of population.

    I commend Jackson for his work.
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  23. NickCarraway

    NickCarraway Forum Resident

    Gastonia, NC
    And demonstrated the absurdity of so-called "Mutual Defense Alliances".

    Before WWI all these alliances existed:

    Russia and Serbia
    Germany and Austria-Hungary
    France and Russia
    Britain and France and Belgium
    Japan and Britain

    After the assassination of the Archduke, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Russia got involved to defend Serbia. Germany, seeing that Russia was mobilizing, declared war on Russia. France was then drawn in against Germany and Austria-Hungary. Germany attacked France by marching through Belgium, pulling Britain into war. Then Japan entered the war.

    Of course the US came in in 1917. Woodrow Wilson campaigned for re-election in 1916 with the slogan "He kept us out of war". So a month after his second inauguration he came to Congress demanding a declaration of war.
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  24. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    The looped chatter, I could do without, but the explosions were great!
  25. Jack White

    Jack White Forum Resident

    Years ago, while attending teachers' college I was out teaching high school history on a 'practicum' leave. I showed the class a Word War II video with real battlefield action footage, which included soldiers being shot and blown up, and dying there on the screen right before our eyes. As a student teacher I was told that if we ever showed content like that we were obligated to give the class a warning prior to showing the video. So, I did - explaining to the class that this was authentic footage, shot on the battlefield and some of scenes included real people actually being killed and it might be upsetting. If anyone thought that that would bother them, they were allowed to leave the classroom. No one budged. No one battered an eye. When the video started someone shouted out in a rather snarky, condescending tone, "Awwww , it's in black and white. It's not like it's real". My recollection is that the video was met by a collective yawn.

    So, I understand perfectly why Jackson and company wanted to do something different to upgrade the film (for lack of a better term to come to mind at this moment). The restoration work on the film that had been languishing in the archives was breath taking. For myself, I wouldn't have minded a black and white only restoration, but I disagree with your assessment of the film, especially with the colour issue.

    (Did you also view the supplementary doc explaining the film-making process for this project?)
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019

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