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They Shall not Grow Old Film: Bringing WWI to Life

Posted by Speakeasy News > Wednesday 31 October 2018 > Ready to Use


To mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, Peter Jackson has restored old black-and-white archive footage of British servicemen’s life in training and in the trenches. He has colourised it, and has asked lip-readers to help dub in what the soldiers were actually saying. The title he gave to the film (They shall not grow old) refers to a poem by Robert Laurence Binyon, entitled “For the Fallen”, but often referred to as the “Ode of Remembrance” – first published in September 1914 in the Times, it has been used in memorial services across the English-speaking world ever since. Though Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et decorum est” might have been a more realistic and relevant reference to encapsulate both the reality and atrocities of the war.

The subject can fit the cycle terminale’s “Myths and Heroes” notion, or the LELE theme “The writer in his/her time”.

In this B2 sequence, students react to the poster and trailer of the film, before watching a report about the movie in which Peter Jackson briefly explains his intent. Then, in groups, they read and study the poems by Binyon or Owen, and decide which fits Peter Jackson’s project better. Finally, they use what they have learnt to reflect on the syllabus notion “Myths and Heroes” or on the literature theme “The writer in his/her time”.

Culture, language and structures

  • WWI
  • WWI poetry, Robert Laurence Binyon’s “For the Fallen” and Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum est
  • Opposing and contrasting, comparing
  • Some figures of speech: anaphora, simile, metaphor, allegory…
  • Vocabulary related to the war, the trenches, heroism and remembrance



Webpicks Useful websites and online tools for classroom use
> Battle of the Somme WWI Webpicks
Ready to Use Downloadable resources ready to use in class
> Remembering British WWI Soldiers
> In the Trenches
Notions culturelles : "Mythes et héros" "LELE Littérature en langue étrangère"