Peter Jackson's Next Movie is About World War I

The 3D documentary will shed new light on the Great War with never-before-seen footage.

Peter Jackson The Hobbit

The 3D documentary will shed new light on the Great War with never-before-seen footage.

Peter Jackson, best known as a director of Hobbits and Orcs, has always expressed a keen interest in the latest technologies of filmmaking. The Lord of the Rings franchise catapulted him into the spotlight partially due to its own innovativeness, such as pioneering Massive Software. More recently, Jackson’s interest has turned towards restoration and history, and he is prepping to release a World War I documentary with newly restored and colorized footage.

In a video promoting the film (watch it below), Jackson says:

“We can make this grainy, flickery, sped-up footage look like it was shot in the last week or two. It looks like it was shot with high-definition cameras. It’s so sharp and clear now.”

He has teamed up with 14-18 Now and the Imperial War Museum to have the documentary mark 100 years since the war’s ending. The project has been a short while in the making; the Imperial War Museum first approached the director about restoring footage two years ago. Jackson then went through over 600 hours of unreleased interviews recorded between the 1960s and 1990s in order to put the film together.

This might not sound like your typical sort of thrilling war movie, but Jackson reassures viewers that he is still all about the experiential nature of filmmaking and film-watching. Deciding to instead tackle humanity over “strategy [or] battles,” Jackson aims to describe the “social experience” of WWI and possibly break some stereotypes and cliches about that time period. He says:

“We’re making a film [that is] not the usual film you would expect on the First World War. We’re making a film that shows this incredible footage in which the faces of the men just jump out at you. It’s the people that come to life in this film.”

The documentary is set to premiere at the BFI London Film Festival in October. In 3D. This is typical for a Jackson movie, although the technology may seem excessive for a film that’s billed to be primarily made up of interview footage. However, “experiential” doesn’t have to mean you constantly feel like you’re in a war zone, a la Dunkirk. Perhaps the subtleties of an interview could be enhanced with 3D; feeling like you’re in the same room as an interviewee, ostensibly removing a distinct boundary of the screen to immerse yourself in their anecdotes.

On the flip side, if this ends up being one of Jackson’s divisive experiments — like The Hobbit‘s 48 fps debacle a few years ago — the film will still be available in regular 2D anyway. The still-untitled documentary is being sent out to every British secondary school for the fall term and will air on BBC One sometime following the BFI screening.

Watch Jackson describe his latest project below.

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