Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson has turned black and white film from the First World War into colour and brought soldiers’ “faces to life” after raiding the archives at the Imperial War Museum.

The man behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy has also sharpened some of the footage and slowed down the jitters that accompanied early, hand-cranked cameras.

To make a documentary called They Shall Not Grow Old, Jackson was given hundreds of films by the museum which he has spent the last four years working on.

One of the shots Peter Jackson has reworked. Pic: They Shall Not Grow Old/WingNut Films
Image:
One of the shots Peter Jackson has reworked. Pic: They Shall Not Grow Old/WingNut Films

The 90-minute film is narrated using snippets of interviews with 120 veterans, recorded in 1964.

Jackson told Sky News it was a passion project, inspired by a life-long interest in the war which started as a child because his grandfather was a serving solider in the British Army.

Remastering the footage “brought their faces to life,” he said of the troops.

“You didn’t really notice them when they were all sped up and jerky, but suddenly they just come into a focus,” he said.

Peter Jackson remastered archive footage. Pic: They Shall Not Grow Old/WingNut Films
Image:
Peter Jackson remastered archive footage. Pic: They Shall Not Grow Old/WingNut Films

The Imperial War Museum’s head of film, Matt Leigh, who has been collaborating with Jackson, said he wanted to transform the archive into something “radically new” to engage younger audiences.

He hopes it will help people to understand more about those who served in the Great War, which was the first major war to be captured on film.

Black and white footage has been turned into colour. Pic: They Shall Not Grow Old/WingNut Films
Image:
Black and white footage has been turned into colour. Pic: They Shall Not Grow Old/WingNut Films

The documentary was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum and the 14-18 NOW project to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day.

As well as being shown in cinemas, it will be given to all secondary schools.

Jackson said the film “highlights the individual experience of war”.

More from Ents & Arts

“My family members are not in the film but I feel like they are – this is a common experience,” he added.

“We all share the DNA of those soliders.”