Tuesday 17 September 2019

Pick of the week: They Shall Not Grow Old

Sunday, BBC2, 9.30pm, The Great War's ghosts

Evocative film: Filmmaker Peter Jackson restores old footage of British servicemen
Evocative film: Filmmaker Peter Jackson restores old footage of British servicemen
Lorraine and Maurice McCabe
Taken Down
Celebrity Hunted
Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington

This Sunday marks the centenary of the Armistice that ended one of the bloodiest and most pointless wars in human history. History shows and commemorations have come thick and fast in recent weeks, but perhaps none more raw and evocative than this daring and experimental film from Peter Jackson.

As he's shown in movies like King Kong and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the New Zealand film-maker has always pushed the boundaries of what is possible in terms of cinematography and special effects, and in They Shall Not Grow Old he's found ingenious ways of bringing archive footage eerily to life.

Granted access to the extensive film archive of the Imperial War Museum, Jackson has used state-of-the-art technology to painstakingly restore and sharpen flickering black and white footage of British servicemen training for war, living in the trenches and charging into battle. More than that, he's also colourised it, given it a 3D effect, and used lip readers to help dub in what those long dead troops are actually talking about. Extracts of diaries and letters are used to form a narrative voiceover, and the overall effect is stunning.

Faced with Jackson's sympathetically applied tricks, it's impossible to remain detached from the harsh lives of those soldiers, many of whom died in the muddy fields of Northern France and Belgium. Their faces stay with you long after you've seen the film, and what strikes you most is how eerily modern they seem. They look just like you and me, but were unlucky enough to be born into a doomed generation.

3 to watch

Taken Down

Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm

Gone girl

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Taken Down
 

Jen Rooney and the team are growing increasingly suspicious about the staff at the centre, and meanwhile another girl has disappeared.

Whistleblower: The Maurice McCabe Story

Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

McCabe's story

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Lorraine and Maurice McCabe
 

In this two-part documentary Katie Hannon talks exclusively to Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine about how their lives were affected by his brave stand.

Celebrity Hunted

Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm

The net closes

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Celebrity Hunted
 

In the final episode, Chris and Kim enjoy one last spa while Tory MP Johnny Mercer, who's proved the most elusive of the celebrities, finds a new way to slow his pursuers down.

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