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This Is Film 2021 4 Restoration or Re Appropriation

#4: Restoration or Re-appropriation?

This is Film! Heritage in Practice

The fourth session of This is Film! Film Heritage in Practice will feature a film that sparked heated discussions within the audiovisual archive community: They Shall Not Grow Old (2018) by Peter Jackson, best known for directing the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

poster This is Film! Film Heritage in Practice 2021

The film They Shall Not Grow Old (2018) by Peter Jackson tells the story of what it was like to be a soldier during the First World War, using original footage from the Imperial War Museum's extensive archives, in combination with interviews conducted by IWM and the BBC.

The film was co-commissioned by 14–18 NOW (a cultural programme to mark the centenary of WWI) and Imperial War Museums in association with the BBC. Jackson used several modern production techniques to manipulate the materials that were previously digitized and restored by Imperial War Museums, such as colorization, grain reduction, sharpening of the image, cropping the image, conforming the film to sound speed, and conversion to 3-D.


While the general public and many film critics were wildly enthusiastic and praised the film for its “impressive technical achievement” and “walloping emotional impact”, archivists and film historians had their concerns about the fact that Jackson called his film a “restored documentary” while they felt that the kind of manipulation carried out in this project fall into the category of artistic re-appropriation rather than archival restoration.

Eye has invited David Walsh (former Head of Digital Collections at Imperial War Museums) and Matthew Lee (Head of Film at the Imperial War Museums) to talk about their experience of working with director Peter Jackson on They Shall Not Grow Old (2018), addressing the genesis of the film, and its controversies.


David Walsh is Training and Outreach Coordinator for FIAF and former Head of Digital Collection at Imperial War Museums (IWM) in London. He is an expert in the preservation of film and video.

Matthew Lee is Head of Film at Imperial War Museums and has been a Film Curator for many years at IWM. He takes an interest in the question of fakery and reconstruction in non-fiction film.

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159 min.

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#4: Restoration or Re-appropriation?

Part of

This is Film! 2021

This is Film! Film Heritage in Practice is a public lecture series devoted to notable projects in the fields of film restoration and film heritage. Under the overarching theme of recycling, re-using and remixing archival film(fragments), the series will showcase a broad range of creatively reused archival footage in different settings, addressing its relevance for audiences today.

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