D and some of his taller brethren ventured out to the limited-engagement showing of They Shall Not Grow Old Monday evening, and it was an incredible experience. Director Peter Jackson provides a brief introduction and then we strap on the 3D glasses and prepared to be wowed. It doesn’t happen all at once, but, wow, it happens. The film is just one incredible sequence after another. Jackson draws on 600 hours of archival interviews and 100 hours of footage to depict a “generic” experience of a (surviving) combat veteran. That depiction goes from enlisting in the armed services to training to the front lines and back again. It is at once exhilarating, exasperating, numbing, nauseating, and humbling.
Once the film ends, Jackson tacked on a 30-minute mini documentary explaining some of the choices he made in putting the project together, as well as the methods for solving the problems of dealing with 100-year old film. This turned out to be both bewildering and hilarious, and even of those of you used to the wonders of modern technology are likely to be impressed with what Jackson is able to accomplish and how he was able to accomplish it. If you see the movie, definitely stay for the extras. The New York Times provides a taste of what this is all about.
So, this will certainly go down as one of my top movie-going experiences of the year. And unlike Free Solo, which documents an extraordinary event without being an extraordinary production, this one hits the target on both marks. I will likely go see this again if it returns to our theater on December 27. And given our theater sold out both the 4 p.m. and the 7 p.m. showings, I’m guessing it will.