WORLD WAR 1 footage has been colourised in a “breathtaking” film by Peter Jackson which has been hailed as “mesmerising” as viewers experience the true horrors of the Great War through the eyes of British soldiers.
Mr Jackson and his crew painstakingly colourised and stabilised black-and-white war footage from the Imperial War Museum's archives – which took more than four years to complete. Harrowing scenes of soldiers stumbling through the muddy trenches in France turn to colour as more cheerful scenes of comradery is shown at meal times. An iconic image of Tommies from the East Yorkshire Regiment’s 12th Battalion shows the troops enjoying a meal on the Western Front in the autumn of 1917 with flower vases made from shell casings.
A soundtrack of banter, explosions and screams from men who fought for Britain in World War 1 (WW1) was also added to the silent footage.
Mr Jackson also recruited forensic lip-readers to decode the conversations of soldiers more than 100 years ago.
The film also features commentary of more than 120 war veterans interviewed in the 1960s and 1970s as they reflect on the scenes they faced during the conflict.
Viewers were left stunned by the harrowing colourised footage from World War 1.
One Twitter user wrote: “Watching #TheyShallNotGrowOls and just mesmerised at the AMAZING job #peterjackson and his crew have done in colouring this footage from World War 1.
“I’m astounded at how good the footage is – shows how hideously awful the Great War actually was.”
Dan Hultum tweeted: “Peter Jackson's Great War documentary is both breathtaking and utterly harrowing.
“I’ve never seen these events portrayed in this way. Just outstanding.”
Joanne Fitzpatrick also said: “Humbling, horrific and inspirational all at the same time.
“Thank you to Peter Jackson for bringing this to our screens in this way.”
Meanwhile Bruce Hood tweeted: "Peter Jackson's 'They Shall Not Grow Old' making me weep. The sheer humanity & futility."
There have been calls for Mr Jackson to be knighted over his work on They Shall Not Grow Old – an honour the director already received in 2010.
Speaking about the film, Mr Jackson said: “I wanted to reach through the fog of time and pull these men into the modern world, so they can regain their humanity once more - rather than be seen only as Charlie Chaplin-type figures in the vintage archive film.
“There's been lots of documentaries made on the First World War and I just decided for this one to strictly just use the voices of the guys that fought there.
“It's not the story of the war. It's the story of the human experience of fighting in the war."
Mr Jackson's film premiered at the BFI Southbank last month and was attended by Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.
They Shall Not Grow Old is available on BBC’s iPlayer until November 18.