They Shall Not Grow Old

Discussion in 'Media Central' started by Tuckerfan, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Or, Peter Jackson's first really good film since "Meet the Feebles."

    Jackson has spent years digitizing films from WWI, then fixing the problems caused by the wonky nature of movie cameras of that era, and colorizing them. He hired lip readers to figure out what the people were saying in the films, got actors who had the same accents as the people in the clips to speak the words, added sound effects, and recordings of WWI vets recounting their service during the war. While some cinema purists might object to these things, from a historical perspective, not only does this enable us to see the events captured on film the way the participants would have seen them, it adds new knowledge because we have some idea of what the people were saying when they were being filmed.



    It's in a few theaters, but can be bought online from various places like iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu for $20.
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  2. We Are Borg

    We Are Borg Rey of sunshine

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    Wow. Just wow.

    I know what I'm watching tonight.
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  3. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    A bit behind the scenes.

  4. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    yes I heard about this on the radio! It came to a theater here for one, maybe two showings only. I will watch it one way or the other though - looks fascinating.

    Holy shit! About 1:57 into the trailer does that soldier get his helmet knocked off by a piece of shrapnel or what? :shock: I slowed it down and I couldn't see any of his buddies throwing something to knock it off. Talk about a close call!
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
  5. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Watched it last night. Best way to think of this is if someone edited "Band of Brothers" down to an hour and 40 minute movie. It is not for the squeamish. There's dead bodies, people and animals being killed, and graphic descriptions of people dying. The way Jackson did the movie, as far as the colorization and film clean-up, works. We start with old, unretouched black and white footage in 4:3 of England just before the war, with voice-overs from soldiers talking about their lives in the days before the war. We move on to them talking about enlisting and going to boot camp. The film quality improves but remains in black and white. Once they start talking about being deployed and experiencing combat, everything switches to color and widescreen. Then, at the end of the film, as the soldiers talk about coming home from the end of the war, it returns to black and white and 4:3. Definitely an amazing piece of work, and if the Oscars want to have any shred of credibility to them, needs to win Best Documentary and Best Sound (for reasons I'll get to in a bit).

    Other thoughts: Colorization technology has come a long way since Ted Turner gave Frank Sinatra brown eyes back in the '80s, but it's still not quite there yet. Put it at about the level of de-aging technology used for Tarkin in Rogue One as compared to that being used in Captain Marvel, and you'll have a good idea of what it's like. It's not annoyingly bad, but it still needs work. Some of the colors, like the grass, were too bright, others seemed to be non-existent, like when they showed mud or some of the explosions. The tint on the uniform colors seemed to a bit off on the browns as well. Some of the shots come off as well as this rare color image taken at about the same time as the war.

    [​IMG]

    But most aren't nearly so lovely in terms of color and richness. I will say, that the imagery of the final color shot of the film was so vivid and rich, that I assumed that it was a re-enactment, and not retouched film footage. However, they remove the color and film improvements and you realize just how talented the people behind the film were because it's clearly from 1919.

    I hope that this film is such a success that they decide to do a mini-series in the same style so they can cover more aspects of the war. This film was strictly about the war in the trenches. There was no mention of the air war or any naval battles. There were no shots of military ships, aircraft, or even barrage balloons, which were used on the battlefield nor is there much talk of the military hospitals. There was also almost no information as to where the scenes were shot, or when they were shot. They try to handle this by playing a recording of a soldier talking about how they weren't told where they were going to be deployed to, and everything in Belgium being so bombed out as they marched through, that you couldn't identify the towns. The lack of dates for the scenes in the film, though, was made really troubling by the comments of one of the soldiers. He says that the fighting in each year of the war was dramatically different than that of the previous year and that a soldier who was on the front in 1914, who went away and came back in 1917, wouldn't have been able to understand what's going on. The only hints you get as to the dates are when they talk about the introduction of tanks (which happened in 1916) and the final year of the war when they talk about "going over the top" of the trenches. Other than that, and the scenes could have taken place at any part in the war.

    Whomever the sound engineers were on this film, they were goddamned geniuses. I've heard recordings of WWI vets before, which were all made in the 50s and 60s, and they sound awful. The limitations of recording technology of the era, at least so far as those recordings were really, really bad. Whoever cleaned up the recordings knew what the fuck they were doing. It all sounds very crisp, clean, almost as if it were recorded yesterday (and yes, I checked the credits, there were no actors reading transcripts of the recordings, these were the originals). They deserve every film award for sound engineering that's out there because they took what's often garbage and made it lovely.

    A couple of final nitpicky complaints is that I wish there was a version of the film where you could watch the colorized scenes in 4:3. By zooming in on the frames, they were able to fill the screen, but you have no idea of what was lost of the image. They do some Ken Burns-style pans in a few shots, but it's not really enough. The other thing that they do, is in a handful of scenes, they will freeze some of the actions by the soldiers in the foreground, while still having some of the soldiers moving around in the background. I get the effect that they were trying to go for with this, but I found it distracting more than anything else. In one scene, you have a group of soldiers sitting around, staring at the camera, utterly frozen, not blinking, not breathing, or having any of the subtle, unconscious movements people make all the time, while one soldier in the middle ground wipes down his rifle (also still staring at the camera).
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  6. Captain Conspiracy

    Captain Conspiracy Making Frogs Gay Again

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    I just watched this and that alone was very interesting, they worked really hard on this.
  7. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    I think Jackson needs to be very careful with calling this a "documentary." While it certainly has the elements of a documentary, it also includes a lot of VFX hocus-pocus which could wind up being quite misleading, even inaccurate. I'd call this a simulation, not a documentary. It's somewhere between Oliver Stone's JFK and something like Ken Burns' Civil War documentary.
  8. Captain Conspiracy

    Captain Conspiracy Making Frogs Gay Again

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    It's mainly restoration of war footage. Good enough for me. I did like the explanation of why movies back then were so fast.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
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  9. We Are Borg

    We Are Borg Rey of sunshine

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    In what way?
  10. shootER

    shootER Insubordinate...and churlish Administrator

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    Keep in mind that documentaries have a lot more leeway than news outlets do to "mess with" the subjects they're covering and often aren't really "journalism" in the sense that most of us think. Documentaries frequently stage their scenes (something that should be frowned on and discouraged in news) and even more frequently espouse a specific agenda or point of view (something else that news outlets shouldn't do).

    I've only seen the trailer, and even though I'm pretty much a purist, I still go back and forth on this. On the one hand, it's clearly changing the source material, but in a way that I think it mostly acceptable in order to better depict the scenes since they were recorded with such primitive equipment.

    On the other, I don't care for changing the aspect ratio as much as it's apparently been done with the footage. The images were framed for the original ration and should be left that way, IMHO. I also don't care for having actors loop the footage. Seems cheesy to me and I think I'd prefer subtitles, but not having seen the whole film I'm prepared to be convinced otherwise.
  11. shootER

    shootER Insubordinate...and churlish Administrator

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    It'll have to be something other than the Academy Awards. :(

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  12. shootER

    shootER Insubordinate...and churlish Administrator

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    That's some serious bullshit, BTW.

    I understand missing the deadline making it ineligible for this year's Oscars, but not letting a film released between 1 October and 31 December compete in the following year's awards is fucked up. It essentially makes the last three months of the year a black hole.

    The Emmys definitely don't work that way.
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  13. We Are Borg

    We Are Borg Rey of sunshine

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    Given that the Oscars are bullshit anyway (and the biggest circle jerk in the entertainment industry), why are you surprised? :lol:
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  14. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    so you're telling me experienced documentarian like Michael Moore might be pushing an agenda? :unsure:
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  15. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    I didn't hear the explanation but I think it was because of the metric system......or Trump. :brood:
    It had nothing to do with cranking the handle on the camera I'm sure. I remember Billy Crystal doing a short bit about old films of baseball players and it was pretty funny.
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  16. Spaceturkey

    Spaceturkey you can't spell hatred without "red hat"

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    congratulations on being the last adult in north america to realize this.
  17. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    Jesus Space Turkey I was being sarcastic. :flow: I may be a little slow on the uptake, but it only took me a short while to figure out MM is a bullshit artist.
  18. shootER

    shootER Insubordinate...and churlish Administrator

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  19. We Are Borg

    We Are Borg Rey of sunshine

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    Meant to post this a while back. I saw the film and was largely underwhelmed, if only because it's a 99-minute film and it takes almost an hour to get to the good stuff (the "restored" footage).

    Not bad as documentaries go, but it would be entirely pedestrian and forgettable if it weren't for the awesome "restoration" work.
  20. Spaceturkey

    Spaceturkey you can't spell hatred without "red hat"

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    Have you caught "Our World War" on Netflix?