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Parents' Guide to

They Shall Not Grow Old

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Astonishing, groundbreaking, graphic images of WWI.

Movie R 2019 99 minutes
They Shall Not Grow Old Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 17+

Very brutal movie but yet very good!

R: sequences of intense brutal war violence, bloody images and some language
age 12+

War images are a bit intense;language, too

PG-13: intense sequences of war violence and some language

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (6 ):

Director Peter Jackson's assemblage of restored footage -- colored and rendered in 3D, with added sound effects, voices, and narration -- is an astonishing achievement, a distillation of war itself. The Oscar-winning filmmaker -- whose own father served in WWI -- provides a filmed introduction, explaining how the project came about, which is helpful and necessary. After that, They Shall Not Grow Old starts gradually, with the small-frame, flickering black-and-white footage we're all familiar with. Then the various elements kick in, and, after a while, like The Wizard of Oz, it emerges in color. Suddenly the men in their uniforms feel like real people, not just faded shadows.

Jackson chooses not to show any dates, names, or places. There are no characters to follow and no story arcs or subplots. It's just one immersive dive into a particular, specific experience: the trenches of the Western Front. The spoken narration by actual soldiers, mainly recorded in the 1960s and '70s when memories of WWI were fresher, does most of the work, but the movie's 99 minutes come closer to understanding the entirety of war than just about any other film, from the initial burst of excitement to the indescribable horrors in the thick of it to the heartbreakingly anticlimactic, lost, empty aftermath. It's honorable to the memories of the men who fought but critical of the act of war itself. One former soldier says that there should never, ever be another war, and when They Shall Not Grow Old ends, audiences will agree.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: February 1, 2019
  • On DVD or streaming: May 7, 2019
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Topics: History
  • Run time: 99 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: disturbing war images
  • Last updated: August 24, 2023

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