The Radio Times logo
We may earn commission from links on this page. Our editorial is always independent (learn more)

They Shall Not Grow Old

  • Documentary and factual
  • News and current affairs
  • 2018
  • Peter Jackson
  • 95 mins
  • 15


First World War documentary. Commissioned to mark the centenary of the war's end, director Peter Jackson combines footage from the Imperial War Museum's extensive archives and interviews with those who took part in the conflict, alongside cutting-edge colourising and production techniques, to create a detailed portrait of the soldiers involved.

Powered By


A star rating of 5 out of 5.

Planned to mark the centenary of the cessation of hostilities at the end of the Great War in 1918, Peter Jackson's painstaking re-creation of the prelude, the horror and the aftermath draws on technology nobody could have dreamed of a century ago. Silent footage has been restored, subtly colourised, converted without sensationalism to 3D, with a soundtrack of banter, forced marches and artillery created in post-production. The staggering result is an immersive experience in the truest sense. Narrated in collaged snatches by unnamed soldiers (each formally credited in the end credits), the build-up is one of a national outing for young men, presented by Jackson in a square frame in black and white against the constant whirr of a projector. Once in the trenches, he opens out to widescreen and living colour (3D in special presentations). Nuanced sound effects conspire to drop the audience into the reality of war and close-ups of trench foot and mangled bodies are unapologetically shown. With 9 million combatants dead and the survivors drained, the Armistice is shown to be devoid of celebration so the return to an economically depressed Blighty is an almighty anticlimax. The volunteers and conscripts who, at the start of the war believed it would be all over by Christmas 1914 ended it mentally and physically scarred, hoping that it was the war "to end all wars". With this account of events, Jackson ensures that their voices will inspire conversations about war and peace for generations.



DirectorPeter Jackson


Theatrical distributor
Released on
Injury detail, images of real dead bodies
Available on
DVD and Blu-ray

News & features about They Shall Not Grow Old

Advertisement is getting better. Fresh new look, redesigned programme hub, richer content…


Sponsored content