It’s quite amazing what master storyteller Peter Jackson has done here on the centennial of the end of World War One. Starting with old photos and film clips lovingly preserved by Britain’s Imperial War Museum, adding a bit of unobtrusive digital wizardry (like colorizing) and cutting-edge restoration techniques, and letting the actual veterans do the narration through recorded audio interviews, he’s fashioned an unforgettable, humane and heartbreaking war movie (or more correctly an anti-war movie) as immediate as any big budget action flick and way more emotionally involving. 

This time machine of a movie’s attention to the daily details of life in the trenches evokes an immersive you-are-there sensibility despite naming no persons, dates or specific battles.

Particularly shocking to me (a vet) was the indifference these men (boys, really) met with upon their return home, especially considering the ruthless “white feather” campaign waged at the war’s beginning to shame young men into enlisting. Not to be missed.

January 25 (99 min)