But we’re not talking about the Lord of the Rings! They Shall Not Grow Old is a magnificent, haunting film by Mr. Jackson. Highly recommended for history buffs, movie lovers, audio/video tech enthusiasts, progressives, libertarians, liberals, conservatives, especially Catholic conservatives. In fact, just about everybody should see this movie. It’s rated R (for scenes of war violence and gore) but parents should give serious consideration to watching it with their older children. Part of being a mature adult is to have some grasp of the realities of war portrayed here. This documentary is a powerful antidote to the usual cinematic and cultural glorification of violence that Americans are exposed to everyday.
WW1 has been called “the greatest cataclysm in human history,” leading inexorably to the destruction of Christian civilization. It’s important to know something about it because when we survey the societal wreckage around us, it’s a good starting point for those who want to think about “where things went wrong.” This film is a wonderful technical and humanitarian achievement, but it is limited in that it is strictly about the British experience, it has no discernible political viewpoint and, somewhat strangely, contains practically no references to spiritual values among the millions-strong army of Christians. It’s now out on DVD, but seeing it on the big screen with a large audience is highly recommended, so if you get a chance to do that, jump at it.
Here are excerpts from three thoughtful and provocative reviews/commentaries by Catholic writers.
From “The Veneer of Civilization Slipped Away” by Jeffrey A. Tucker:
“The narrative is genius storytelling, somehow taking this ghastly, complex, ignored series of events with strange beginnings and turning it into a deeply engaging human drama about the mystically evil event we call war which baptizes mass murder and death in the cleansing waters of patriotic fervor.”
From “‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ is a Powerful, Beautiful Picture of the Ugliness of War” by John Zmirak:
“Instead of gray ghosts, the soldiers shine forth luminously as men like you and me. The decades melt away, and we can see ourselves in these men in the trenches…
These British men give us a glimpse of the Christian civilization which existed before the Great War, which that savage strife did so much to hollow out and destroy.”
From “CHRIST or DEATH: The Choice of 1914” by Hilary White:
“The result of this rejection of Christ the King has been a descent into chaos that can now only be answered by the rise of the all-powerful State, backed up by the death-machines.”
Don’t miss this movie and please tell others about it.