Thursday, December 20, 2018
Review of 'They Shall Not Grow Old'
As the film progresses there are some darker accounts; men describing the deaths and maimings of their friends and comrades, but it's still interspersed with accounts of bayonet charges and even hand-to-hand fighting that could easily have come from a Boy's Own comic...indeed, some of those accounts are accompanied, not by actual footage, but by images that look like exactly those sort of comics - brave Tommies going over the top into hordes of grimacing Huns. It ends with accounts from men who returned home shattered to find that no-one was very interested to hear what had happened to them, and that they were turned away from jobs with 'No Ex-Servicemen Need Apply' signs.
And still this is interspersed with brighter stories.
Is this more effective in creating a nuanced picture of the war than an account that was all horror and regret would have been, or does it just allow everyone to carry on thinking what they wanted to? Not sure.
I started watching this on BBC iPlayer, but didn't have time to finish it. I downloaded the film so as to watch the rest on my phone, but it disappeared before I got the chance - downloads from iPlayer seem to be a lot of trouble and not work well. Fortunately it was also available via informal distribution, so I downloaded it, saved it on to a USB drive and watched it on the smart TV.