WWI: They Shall Not Grow Old

Posted by Speakeasy News > Wednesday 10 July 2019 >


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 the trenches. "They Shall Not Grow Old" takes its title from a 1914 poem and this resource fits perfectly into Shine Bright 1re Advanced File 2: "War will Not Tear Us Apart", a sequence for Spécialité LLCE on the effect of WWI on human relationships.

Jackson's team  colourised the footage, and  asked lip-readers to help dub in what the soldiers were actually saying. The film's title refers to a poem by Robert 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.

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 LELE theme “The writer in his/her time”. Or you it works perfectly in conjunction with Shine Bright 1re Advanced File 2: "War will Not Tear Us Apart", a sequence for Spécialité LLCE on the effect of WWI on human relationships. There is an extract of the Wilfred Owen poem "The Send-Off" in the sequence as well as several other war poems.

Find more on the film here.  There is also an A2+-level resource based on this film.

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



Ready to Use Downloadable resources ready to use in class
> Remembering British WWI Soldiers
> In the Trenches
Thème(s) : "Rencontres"
Notion(s) culturelle(s) : "LELE Littérature en langue étrangère" "Mythes et héros"