Haven't posted documentaries in a while, and this one is quite special.
So, we all probably know Peter Jackson as director of LoTR and Hobbit movies, and while I have my own strong words to say about how he dealt with those stories, I must admit, that he knows his editing and he got great team for it. So, what he did for BBC and some War Museum, and in memory of his grandfather, is he took some recordings of interviews by guys who were real infantry soldiers in that war, and he took real archive film footage of that war, and he combined it... and then he went and enhanced all of the film. His team adjusted film speed, colorized it, made sound effects, got lip readers to see what soldiers were saying there, and voice that too over the film. Result is something you never expect to see as a real footage, when you talk about that war.
The flow of the movie itself is pretty simple. Several WW1 veterans take turns talking behind screen about basically their whole experience through the war, from signing up to training, to going to trenches, to actual fighting, to going back home. With all the gritty and real things in between. That is accompanied by the retouched footage that would match the situation. I can't really say if at any time we see on screen any of the people who are actually telling the stories, but the effect is still very immersive. You are being told a story, and you see the story as it was. And that's basically it, there are no commentaries other than veterans talking, no change of pace and talks from experts of whatever. Movie starts silent and black and white, and then effects kick in, after a while.
I must say, seeing footage like that in color was really strange. I mean, you can see that it's enhanced, cause colors and image, of course, cannot be the same as real colored video now. But at the same time you don't doubt the colors you see, and after a while you stop thinking about it. Also, there is a lot of really gruesome stuff. This is why I put nsfw tag here. In this movie they show you all the dead bodies, effects of gangrene, and even how soldiers went to have a shit. So if you are squeamish, this is definitely not for you, but if you are interested in war documentaries, this one is one of the best one I have seen yet, and definitely unique. And, at the same time, very humane, personal so to say, due to number of narrators, all of whom were there.
Great war movie, which I recommend to everyone. Also, as additional bonus, here's a bit of a video on how the team went about the editing process.