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THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD

 

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Peter Jackson and Warner Bros. is a look at the first World War in THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD.

It has been one hundred years since the end of World War I and with over 600 hours of footage, director Jackson along with the Imperial War Museum archives and the BBC tell a story that has never been experienced before.

In those archives are also the voices of men who lived through the war from 1914 to 1918 and share every detail of their military time. When it is realized that war is coming, it wasn’t just men in their twenties signing up. Boys as young as 15 were lying about their age to join and make their way to training and to war.

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For some this was their first experience in the world let along a world at war. Their stories of coming together was a mixture of leaving home for the first time and not quite grasping what they were about to do.

Jackson takes the black and white footage and colorized it and within moments we are brought into their world. The film can be seen in 2D and 3D, I saw it in 3D and it is stunning. It is his hope that by telling a small fraction of a larger story of the war that viewers will see and hear for themselves what has not been before.

In the voices of the men unfolds their life once they became soldiers and that includes every detail of marching, eating, sleeping, friendships and the life of living day to day in the trenches. The German forces are on the other side of a field and in the middle is the constant barraging of bombs.

From the very beginning of the film it is clear that this is a documentary like nothing I had seen before. Every gambit of human emotion was happening on the screen but also the response of an audience who was totally invested in the experience. There were moments of gasping and moments of chuckling and in between moments of keeping emotions together.

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Transforming 100 year old footage, Jackson and his team have brought together an incredible accounting of World War I. By colorizing the footage he has brought this piece of a larger story into such perspective that it is almost hard to believe that the film is only 90+ minutes. There isn’t a moment that didn’t hold the audience captive and not one person left their seat until the film was finished.

I have spent days thinking about this film because of everything that Jackson managed to put together. He was not shy about the personal life of the soldiers nor was he shy about death in war. Once again the emotions of the film bring a quiet theatre even quieter.

THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD is an amazing documentary from beginning to end and what Jackson accomplished in four years is nothing short of stellar. Jackson also has an investment in the film as his own grandfather fought in the war and he did not receive compensation for the film. It is a documentary but I have not felt this moved by a documentary in quite a long time.

To see the young faces of the men who fought World War I in the way Jackson has presented them tugged at my heart. We have to remember that 100 years ago; these soldiers did not have the technology available today so when you wanted to get a message to someone else on the line, a soldier ran it. Tanks were experimental and crude at best and personal protection entrusting your life to the soldier next to you.

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Surviving on rations and taking care of ones self was done through creativity and ingenuity that most of us today can’t even wrap our minds around. That is what this documentary does, helps us all wrap our minds around something that we’ve only read about in books. Now, that word has jumped from page to screen and given faces to it all.

THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD is a must-see on ever level and I would even go so far as to say it is filled with teachable moments. Copies of the film are already in schools in the UK. As Jackson states in the beginning, this is only a small piece of a large war and it is my hope that he continues with this work and brings more to audiences. I would be the first to watch a series of this work!

This is a telling, visually confronting and soul searching film and worth every moment in the theatre to see and experience.

In the end – this is the true experience of being a soldier.

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THE RED SKELTON HOUR in COLOR from Time Life Comes to DVD

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Jeri Jacquin

Taking me down memory lane from Time Life is the 3-DVD set with never-before-release episodes in full color is THE RED SKELTON HOUR in COLOR.

My first introduction to comedy and serious laughter came from watching Richard Bernard “Red” Skelton. Making me laugh as a kid, it didn’t surprise me that his career began early when at the age of ten he began traveling from shows to burlesque right into vaudeville by 1934.

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By 1937 Skelton was beginning a radio career but quickly found his way to the silver screen in HAVING A WONDERFUL TIME with Ginger Rogers and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. He also starred in one of my personal favorites, the 1946 film ZIEGFELD FOLLIES.

THE RED SKELTON HOUR came about by 1951 and continued until 1971 and in that time he created some of the most memorable and beloved characters. I don’t think I will ever see the likes of his talent ever again in my lifetime.

What most don’t know about this comedic genius is that he was set on bringing his comedy show in color at a time when most shows were still in black and white. Purchasing Charlie Chaplin’s Studios he made that dream a reality. Now, Time Life brings Skelton fans that comedy from a simpler time with never-before-released shows.

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What makes this so amazing is to see characters that brought me to tears with laughter one again performed by Skelton. From Freddie the Freeloader to Sheriff Deadeye there isn’t a moment on this DVD that won’t have viewers laughing.

His guest star line up was something to be proud of as well as Tim Conway, Boris Karloff, Vincent Prize, Phyllis Diller, George Gobel, Mickey Rooney and another iconic man of his time John Wayne stops by to be a part of the fun.

Skelton was no stranger to awards because in 1952 and 1961 THE RED SKELTON HOUR received Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy from the Primetime Emmy Awards. In 1959 the series won Best TV Show from the Golden Globe Awards. I wasn’t even born yet and he was making American laugh!

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Time Life has brought this never before released anywhere classic collection of the series to fans. For more of what Time Life has to offer fans of classic television visit www.timelife.com.

What brings me so much joy about the 3-DVD set is that I am transported back to a time when my family gathered around the television to laugh together. I honestly don’t believe we missed a single episode weekly and the ritual that came along with it. Early dinner, pajamas and slippers all around, pillows on the floor, big bowls of popcorn and excitement to see what characters Skelton would bring.

Having the ability to bring the family back together again is nothing short of pure joy. It is a grand way to introduce a new generation to the happiness that Red Skelton brought and is bringing once again.

Unseen for more than 50 years, Red Skelton is one of the most legendary comedians with the longest-running variety show and all of what Time Life brings deserves all of our attention.

In the end – there is no business like funny business as America’s clown prince is back!

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