Peter Jackson’s New Film on World War I Features Incredible Digitally-Restored Footage From the Front Lines: Get a Glimpse

Per­haps one of the most crim­i­nal­ly over­looked voic­es from World War I, Siegfried Sas­soon, was, in his time, enor­mous­ly pop­u­lar with the British read­ing pub­lic. His war poems, as Mar­garet B. McDow­ell writes in the Dic­tio­nary of Lit­er­ary Biog­ra­phy, are “harsh­ly real­is­tic laments or satires” that detail the gris­ly hor­rors of trench war­fare with unspar­ing­ly vivid images and com­men­tary. In lieu of the mass medi­um of tele­vi­sion, and with film still emerg­ing from its infan­cy, poets like Sas­soon and Wil­fred Owen served an impor­tant func­tion not only as artists but as mov­ing, first­hand doc­u­men­tar­i­ans of the war’s phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al rav­ages.

It is unfor­tu­nate that poet­ry no longer serves this pub­lic func­tion. These days, video threat­ens to eclipse even jour­nal­is­tic writ­ing as a pri­ma­ry means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, a devel­op­ment made espe­cial­ly trou­bling by how eas­i­ly dig­i­tal video can be faked or manip­u­lat­ed by the same tech­nolo­gies used to pro­duce block­buster Hol­ly­wood spec­ta­cles and video games. But a fas­ci­nat­ing new use of that tech­nol­o­gy, Peter Jack­son shows us above, will also soon bring the grainy, indis­tinct film of the past into new life, giv­ing footage of WWI the kind of star­tling imme­di­a­cy still con­veyed by Sassoon’s poet­ry.

Jack­son is cur­rent­ly at work on what he describes as “not the usu­al film that you would expect on the First World War,” and as part of that doc­u­men­tary work, he has dig­i­tal­ly enhanced footage from the peri­od, “incred­i­ble footage of which the faces of the men just jump out at you. It’s the faces, it’s the peo­ple that come to life in this film. It’s the human beings that were actu­al­ly there, that were thrust into this extra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tion that defined their lives in many cas­es.” In addi­tion to restor­ing old film, Jack­son and his team have combed through about 600 hours of audio inter­views with WWI vet­er­ans, in order to fur­ther com­mu­ni­cate “the expe­ri­ence of what it was like to fight in this war” from the point of view of the peo­ple who fought it.

The project, com­mis­sioned by the Impe­r­i­al War Muse­ums, “will debut at the BFI Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val lat­er this year,” reports The Inde­pen­dent, “lat­er air­ing on BBC One. A copy of the film will also be giv­en to every sec­ondary school in the coun­try for the 2018 autumn term.” No word yet on where the film can be seen out­side the UK, but you can check the site for release details. In the mean­while, con­sid­er pick­ing up some of the work of Siegfried Sas­soon, whom crit­ic Peter Levi once described as “one of the few poets of his gen­er­a­tion we are real­ly unable to do with­out.”

Learn more about the war at the free course offer­ings below.

via Twist­ed Sifter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Great War and Mod­ern Phi­los­o­phy: A Free Online Course 

World War and Soci­ety in the 20th Cen­tu­ry: World War II (A Free Har­vard Course) 

The Bat­tle to Fin­ish a PhD: World War I Sol­dier Com­pletes His Dis­ser­ta­tion in the Trench­es (1916)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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