In The Wars
New Zealand Listener|December 8 - 14 2018

Following the success of his World War I documentary, Sir Peter Jackson has another war epic in his sights.

Russell Baillie

The latest film directed by Peter Jackson is no fantasy, but it delivers something akin to time travel. It’s also personal.

His They Shall Not Grow Old is a World War I documentary in which digitally restored and audio-enhanced 100-yearold film footage transports you to the Western Front. When the film blooms from a square of scratchy black and white into full-screen colour and atmospheric sound, it’s spine tingling.

Having screened on the BBC on Armistice Day and in packed New Zealand cinemas since, it has gained Jackson his best reviews since The Lord of the Rings. Inevitably, TSNGO has been tagged as a passion project, given Jackson’s enthusiasm for Great War history, which originally sprang from hearing stories about his grandfather. Sergeant William Jackson served the entire conflict in the South Wales Borderers, often fighting alongside Kiwi troops at Gallipoli, Passchendaele and Le Quesnoy.

He died at age 50, in 1940, just as his own son, Bill, went off to World War II. After his war, Bill, remembering his father’s admiration for the New Zealanders, emigrated here, where he met and married fellow English migrant Joan, who, during WWII, worked in a factory building Mosquito fighter bombers. Now her son owns his own aircraft plant and has built his own squadron of WWI replicas.

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