Dune ~ A Capsule Movie Review

Dune 3
~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp ~

Frank Herbert’s famous science fiction novel, Dune, was first published in 1965. It is a long book, over 700 pages, a difficult and rather tedious book to read. Dune is now a long movie (two hours and forty minutes), and this is only Part One. Part Two will be along at some future time. We’ll be watching for it.

Dune, the movie, is a serious science fiction film, meaning that it’s for the thinking grown-ups in the audience and requires a lot of attention to keep track of what’s going on, what just happened, and what’s going to happen next. The main character is a boy-man named Paul Atreides (a grown man but still rather like a boy). He is the son of a government leader Duke Leto Atreides and Duke Leto’s “concubine,” a woman called Lady Jessica. They live on an alien (to us) planet called Caladan. Lady Jessica has been teaching Paul the special powers of the religious order to which she belongs called the Bene Gesserit. Paul has been having dreams that might or might not be visions involving the planet called Arrakis. Do these dreams/visions mean that he has a unique destiny among his people?

Arrakis is important to the people of Caladan because a valuable spice, mélange, is found only there. Mélange extends life and perception. It is also necessary for instantaneous interstellar space travel between planets.

Arrakis is a desert planet, a very inhospitable place. A race of people called the Fremen live on Arrakis. The Fremen must share their planet with gigantic and deadly “sand worms.” The cruel Harkonnens control Arrakis. The Fremen have been trying to expel the Harkonnens from Arrakis for a long time, but without success. Unexpectedly, the Emperor has ordered the Harkonnens to leave Arrakis and has awarded control of the planet to the House of Atreides. The Emperor has set up a conflict between House Atreides and House Harkonnen, to force them into a war that will weaken both of them and benefit himself. Duke Leto Atreides wants to strike an alliance with the Fremen to harness their “desert power” to outwit the Emperor.

Paul Atreides travels to Arrakis with his mother and father. When a crowd of Fremen gathers to witness their arrival, they begin chanting a phrase that Paul doesn’t recognize. Lady Jessica explains to Paul that it’s a local prophecy of the Lisan-al-Gaib, the “voice from outer world,” a prophesied Messiah on Arrakis. Will it be revealed that Paul Atreides is the long-awaited Messiah?

The Harkonnens are not going to easily give up control of Arrakis to House Atreides. They sabotage House Atreides at every turn. The Emperor’s wish of war between the two houses is being fulfilled. Paul Atreides and his family are in for some difficult times. Paul, at the end of the movie, is told what has happened to him so far is “only the beginning.”

Dune is weighty science-fiction/fantasy, much more in the vein of The Lord of the Rings than Star Wars. I wouldn’t take my eight-year-old son to see it, if I had an eight-year-old son. He wouldn’t understand it and the sand worms would cause him to have nightmares.

Copyright © 2022 by Allen Kopp

West Side Story ~ A Capsule Movie Review

West Side Story image 2
West Side Story
~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp ~

A pattern has been established. Every sixty years, there is a new movie version of the classic American musical stage play, West Side Story. The 1961 movie version was a smash hit, winning eleven Oscars, and starring the late Natalie Wood as Maria. It remains a classic, landmark film sixty years later. The 2021 movie version of West Side Story uses all the modern-day film techniques that didn’t exist in 1961, while retaining the flavor and the spirit of the original stage play. The next version of West Side Story will be in 2081. We’ll be watching for it.

Almost every person in the world knows that West Side Story is a retelling of William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. The star-crossed lovers here, though, are not named Romeo and Juliet, but Tony and Maria. Tony is a “white” boy of Polish descent and Maria a “brown” girl from Puerto Rico. (Right away we see there is going to be a problem.) Tony has been in prison for almost killing another boy in a fight. He works, and lives, in a drug store owned by a kind elderly woman named Valentina (played by Rita Moreno, who won a Supporting-Actress Oscar for the 1961 film version). Maria works as a cleaning woman in Gimbel’s department store. “I’m poor,” Maria tells Tony. “I’m poorer,” he says.

The story is set, of course, in New York City in 1957, giving the entire movie a retro look and feel. On the “West Side” of the city, where many Puerto Rican immigrants live, whole sections are being demolished to make way for new buildings. Most of the outdoor scenes are set against piles of rubble.

The young Puerto Rican men in the neighborhood have a gang called the Sharks. The young Anglo men have their own gang called the Jets. The Sharks and the Jets despise each other and are engaged in turf warfare. Each gang wants to be the dominant gang in the neighborhood. This is not going to end well.

Of the lovers Tony and Maria, Tony is a Jet. Maria, while not a member of the rival gang herself, is close to the gang because her intense brother, Bernardo, is the leader of the gang. Bernardo is appalled that Maria, his sister, is cavorting with a member of the Jets. It brings out his killer instinct. The rival gangs are planning a big “rumble” to resolve the issue. They have weapons and, more importantly, high levels of testosterone.

Tony, during one of his romantic interludes with Maria, tells her not to worry. As a member in good standing of the Jets, he can reason with his fellow gang members and persuade them not to fight the Sharks. The year he has spent in prison has made him into something of a pacifist. When the two gangs come face to face in the “salt shed” to fight it out, however, his efforts to bring about “peace” are ineffective. The inevitable consequence is tragedy.

There are many fine moments in West Side Story, some exuberant dance numbers and beautiful, though familiar, music. The whole thing is beautiful to look at. Ansel Elgort as Tony and Rachel Zegler as Maria are sincere and believable. There is lots to like in this remake of West Side Story. If you don’t see anything here to like, then it probably isn’t your kind of movie.

Copyright © 2022 by Allen Kopp

Nightmare Alley ~ A Capsule Movie Review

Nightmare Alley (2021)
Nightmare Alley
~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp ~ 

If you are a grown-up movie fan and you are not interested in movies about comic book super heroes (or other youth-oriented claptrap), you might want to take a look at a 2021 movie called Nightmare Alley, directed by Guillermo del Toro and based on a novel by William Lindsay Gresham. It’s a movie that’s bursting with intelligence, cinematic artistry and vintage atmosphere. A feast for the eyes, the ears and the mind.

The story is about the rise and fall of a fake “mentalist” named Stanton Carlisle (played brilliantly by Bradley Cooper). He comes from out of the gutter and, purely by chance, begins working in a seedy traveling carnival. He falls in with a fortune teller/tarot reader named Zeena (Toni Collette), who, if you haven’t guessed, is a complete fake. Zeena has an old, booze-addled husband named Pete. The two of them (Zeena and Pete) teach Stanton their elaborate “code” for reading minds. The idea is to dazzle the audience and make them believe they are truly witnessing the miracle of mind-reading, while, in reality, it’s only a paper moon.

Molly (Rooney Mara) is a fresh-as-a-rosebud girl working in a sideshow in a skimpy outfit with electricity coursing through her body. She believes in Stanton Carlisle and comes to love him. (Can anybody truly love him?) Stanton tells Molly that the two of them can transcend the traveling carnival and graduate to the high-class big time.

A year or so later, Stanton and Molly have “made it.” They have perfected the mind-reading code and are performing before white-tie audiences in swanky nightclubs. (Stanton does the reading of minds while Molly feeds him the cues.) One night, a “consulting psychiatrist” named Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett) sees the show and is impressed when she tries to fool Stanton and he sidesteps with a clever dodge. She arranges to meet Stanton later, when she tells him how he can make some real dough with a “spook show” in which he convinces wealthy “marks” that they are reconnecting with long-lost loved ones. These heart-broken rich people, it seems, will pay any amount to believe they are communicating with their dearly departed.

In reptilian Dr. Ritter with her scary red lips, Stanton Carlisle has met his match. He tells her in one of their more intimate moments that she is no good; he knows this because he is no good, either. She tells him he is an “Okie with straight teeth.” We come to see by the end of the movie that she is actually worse than he is.

Stanton Carlisle does some horrible things throughout the two hours and thirty minutes of the movie, but we can’t help liking him (even just a little bit), so that makes him (in my book, at least) an anti-hero. He somehow manages to capture, and keep, the sympathy of the audience through to the end. What a movie! I loved it!

Copyright © 2022 by Allen Kopp

The Day of the Locust ~ A Capsule Book Review

The Day of the Locust ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp

Nathanael West’s classic American novel, The Day of the Locust, was first published in 1939. It’s set in 1933 in Hollywood, California, and is about the seedy underside of Hollywood (no glamour and glitz here) and the “people who go to California to die.” Nearly everybody who lives in Hollywood has gone there from some other part of the country.

Tod Hackett works in a movie studio as an artist. We don’t get a clear notion of exactly what he does, but he seems to “conceptualize” movies on paper before they are made. Like a lot of other people in Hollywood, he hopes to be a big success. When he meets Faye Greener, he is taken with her, as a lot of other men are. Faye is only seventeen years old but old beyond her years. She calls herself a movie actress but has only ever appeared as an “extra.” She is more of a floozy than anything else and doesn’t mind working as a whore if it’s the only way she can get money.

Faye lives with and takes care of her father, Harry Greener. He is an alcoholic bum, a broken-down vaudevillian who makes furniture polish in his own home and then goes around selling it to unwitting customers. Times are hard. He remains a performer, though, and will do his vaudeville schtick when compelled to do so. Harry provides a lot of the comic relief in the novel.

Tod continues to pine for Faye, but he is a smart young man and sees that it is hopeless. She is just a superficial flake who will never be seriously true to anybody. When she meets a strange, older man named Homer Simpson, she latches on to him because he lives in his own house and encourages her in her hopeless acting career. After Harry dies, she moves in with Homer. Tod is jealous at first, but after he sees how Faye flits around from man to man indiscriminately, he seems to change his opinion and becomes ambivalent toward her.

And then there is Adore, the androgynous child actor who is a neighbor of Homer Simpson’s. Adore has a “stage mother” and is a rising child star in Hollywood. At the conclusion of the novel, Adore meets a tragic and violent end at the hands of Homer Simpson.

Nathanael West (1903-1940) had a spare writing style that might almost be called minimalist. He didn’t waste space or words. The Day of the Locust is a decidedly pessimistic view of Hollywood and the human race. The concluding scene in the novel takes place outside a Hollywood movie premiere, where an unruly mob demonstrates the worst of human nature. People are as mindless and swarming as a plague of locusts.

A memorable 1975 movie version of The Day of the Locust starred a 36-year-old Karen Black playing seventeen-year-old Faye Greener and Burgess Meredith playing her father.  Why is it never shown on television? I for one would love to see it again after these many years.

Copyright © 2020 by Allen Kopp

1917 ~ A Capsule Movie Review

1917 ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp

Film director Sam Mendes hit it big twenty years ago with American Beauty (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor Oscars). He has hit it big again with his latest directorial effort, 1917, a war drama set in France in World War I.

1917 is a simple story with a simple premise. Two young British soldiers, Lance Corporal Blake and Lance Corporal Schofield—who would rather be anyplace else other than fighting a war—are given an urgent assignment by their commanding officer. They must cross enemy territory to deliver a message of the utmost importance. Two battalions (1600 men) of English soldiers are being tricked by the Germans. These 1600 men and their commanders believe they are going to engage with the enemy, but the truth is they are being tricked and led into a slaughter. The message the two young British soldiers carry to the two battalions is that they are to “stand down” and don’t go on with the battle as planned.

Time is of the essence. If Lance Corporal Blake and Lance Corporal Schofield don’t deliver their message in time, the results will be disastrous. Lance Corporal Blake is told at the outset that his own brother is among the 1600 English soldiers, so he has an additional reason for wanting to succeed.

The odds are against Lance Corporal Blake and Lance Corporal Schofield making their way across enemy territory without being shot or captured. What they see and experience over the next two hours is what we (the audience) sees: endless mud, foxholes, dead bodies of men and animals, flies, stench, rats, barbed wire, gray skies. It’s a story told in “real time,” meaning that the two-hour runtime of the movie is how much time elapses in the story. We (the viewers) see it as it happens. The camera movement is so fluid that we are hardly aware of any edits. It’s an amazing two hours of filmmaking.

Lance Corporal Blake doesn’t make it. He’s stabbed, ironically, by a downed German pilot whose life they save by pulling him out of his burning aircraft, and bleeds to death. Lance Corporal Schofield must carry on alone. He is the “one against many,” “the last man standing.”

There is much to admire in 1917, including its sense of realism and its stirring music score by Thomas Newman. It’s a movie that pushes the boundaries of art. I can’t wait to see it again.

Copyright © 2020 by Allen Kopp

Knives Out ~ A Capsule Movie Review

Knives Out ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp

Knives Out is an old-fashioned murder mystery in the style of English mystery writer Agatha Christie. Benoit Blanc (played by the versatile Daniel Craig, with a Southern drawl right out of Old Virginny), is the astonishingly perceptive, methodical, deceptively unflappable detective. He is in the style of Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot, without the elaborate mustache and the Belgian accent, of course. (Benoit comes from the Latin word “benedictus,” which means “the one who says the good.” Blanc is the French word for “white.”)

Harlan Thrombey (played by Christopher Plummer) is the eighty-five-year-old patriarch of the Thrombey family. As a successful writer of murder mysteries, he has amassed a fortune in excess of sixty million dollars. He lives with his family in a gloomy, spacious, Massachusetts country house.

Since Harland Thrombey is getting along in years, all his children and grandchildren are mightily concerned for his welfare. He is, don’t you know, the Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs. Nobody in the family has to hold down a job because Harlan Thrombey, the wealthy writer of murder mysteries, supports all of them in grand style.

Harlan Thrombey’s son, Walt, ostensibly runs the family publishing business, but all he does he does is publish his father’s twice-yearly books. Daughter Linda and her husband, Richard, seem to do nothing except stand around and talk (she smokes cigarettes) and keep an eye on the old man, the source of all “their” wealth. Linda and Richard have a son in his mid-thirties, Ransome. He’s handsome, dissolute and unscrupulous. Harlan’s daughter-in-law, Joni, is a flaky matron who was once married to Harlan’s now-deceased son. She knows where her bread is buttered. She has been “double-dipping” her daughter Meg’s tuition money to an expensive school (cheating her generous father-in-law) to the tune of a hundred thousand dollars a year.

On the night of Harlan Thrombey eighty-fifth birthday party, he ends up dead, apparently murdered, with his throat cut. The last person to see him alive is his immigrant nurse from Uruguay, a young woman named Marta Cabrera. The family treats her as one of them. She seems to be the only one in the group who genuinely cares for Harlan Thrombey without any selfish motives.

There are plenty of suspects with reason enough to want to see the old man dead, aren’t there? Hours before he died, he threatened to cut off his over-indulged grandson Ransome without a penny. Hours before he died, he discovered that his daughter-in-law Joni was cheating him out of a considerable amount of money and also threatened to cast her out into the cruel world without a penny. Hours before he died, he had a little talk with this son-in-law Richard to the effect that he knew that Richard was cheating on his wife, Linda. Hours before he died, he threatened to remove his son Walt from the publishing company. Wouldn’t any of them, or any of the others, for that matter, have reason enough to want to see the old man dead?

Enter aforementioned Benoit Blanc. He sees right away what a bunch of greedy, grasping, self-serving assholes the Thrombeys are. “I am eliminating no one as a suspect,” he drawls. If anybody can figure out who killed Harlan Thrombey, Benoit Blanc can.

Knives Out is a story that relies heavily on character and the spoken word. There are plenty of twists and wrong turns in the story but, never fear, the truth will be revealed in the end. If you’re used to lots of action, gunshots and screeching tires in your movies, then Knives Out probably isn’t the movie for you. Let’s just say it’s geared toward the older, and calmer, audience.

Copyright © 2019 by Allen Kopp

Joker ~ A Capsule Movie Review

Joker ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp

There’s no Batman in Joker. Let’s get that clear. Batman is yet to be. The character who will be Batman when he’s grown up, Bruce Wayne, is a child in Joker. Bruce Wayne is the son of Thomas Wayne, mayoral candidate of Gotham City. Gotham City is a sort of fictional New York City, only grittier, uglier and more crime-ridden. Thomas Wayne says he can clean up Gotham City if voters will give him a chance. He doesn’t seem very trustworthy. He seems like just another phony asshole politician who will say and do anything to get elected.

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) lives with his invalid mother, Penny Fleck, in a squalid apartment building in Gotham City. Penny Fleck used to be employed by the Thomas Wayne family as a domestic. Arthur bears a physical resemblance to Thomas Wayne. Do you get the connection here without having it spelled out?

Arthur is a study unto himself. You don’t even need Batman. He is a former mental patient (why did they ever let him out?) who takes seven medications and, yet, he “feels so bad all the time.” He is a professional “party clown.” He goes wherever a clown is needed, whether it’s to children’s hospital or to carry a sign on the street to advertise a going-out-of-business sale.

The thing with Arthur is that the world has not been very kind to him. He has been (or believes he has) largely mistreated. Funding is cut off for his psychiatric care and his drugs. When he is savagely beaten and kicked by thugs on the street, a co-worker gives him a gun for self-defense. A mental patient with a distorted view of things carrying a gun? I don’t think so. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

One night when he is going home from work dressed as a clown, Arthur Fleck has an ugly encounter with three bullies on the subway and ends up killing all three of them vigilante-style. The three dead bullies are elite Wall Street types. By killing them, Arthur becomes a hero to the downtrodden. A kind of class warfare begins between the haves and the have nots. People all over the city begin dressing as clowns to show their solidarity with the subway killer. This is just the beginning for Arthur. He has had enough and he’s not going to take it anymore. He goes from being Arthur Fleck, the sad little man who lives with his mother in a creepy apartment building, to being the “Joker,” the arch-villain of the city and nemesis of the yet-to-be Batman, who is still just Bruce Wayne, child of an affluent family.

Joker is not just another superhero movie (there have been too many of them) based on comic book characters. It’s not for children; it’s dark, violent and sad. At the core of it all is the characterization of the Joker by an actor who obviously immerses himself in the role. We see before our very eyes the evolution of an arch-villain. He puts on a happy face. He dances. He sings. He kills.

Copyright © 2019 by Allen Kopp

JoJo Rabbit ~ A Capsule Movie Review

JoJo Rabbit ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp

Johannes “JoJo” Betzler is a winsome, ten-year-old boy living with his unconventional mother in Nazi Germany during World War II. His father is fighting in Italy, unseen for two years and presumed dead. JoJo has an “imaginary” companion, who turns out to be none other than the Fuehrer himself, Adolf Hitler. Caught up in the fervor of his time and place, JoJo believes he is a loyal Nazi, until he starts seeing things in a different way.

The Hitler of JoJo’s imagination is funny and endearing, or at least that’s the way JoJo sees him. He has a funny accent and a comical mustache and he’s fun to be with and to talk to, a really nice fellow. Sometimes when he’s talking he lapses into his “fiery speech” mode. JoJo has some growing up to do before he sees Hitler for what he really is and becomes disenchanted with him.

Jews are the enemy, according to Germans of the era, the cause of all the world’s woes. JoJo is more than willing to go along with the hatred of Jews until he discovers that his own mother is hiding one of them in her house, a teen girl named Elsa. JoJo and Elsa becomes friends. After JoJo becomes friends with a Jew, he comes to see the race in an entirely different light. (“What will you do when the war is over and you no longer have to hide?” JoJo asks Elsa. “Dance,” she says.) JoJo wants Elsa to tell him all about the Jews because all he knows about them is the stereotypes. He plans on writing a book that will be the definitive book on how Jews are different from Aryans. JoJo is intelligent beyond his years.

The war isn’t going well for Germany. Allied forces are closing in. The Russians are on Germany’s doorstep. Realistic Germans see the war is lost. The time for believing in miracles is past. When JoJo’s mother pays the ultimate sacrifice for hiding a Jew in her house, JoJo finds himself all alone in the world. Suddenly the war has ended. What do JoJo and Elsa do now? Isn’t it time to dance?

New Zealand actor Taika Waititi plays Hitler in JoJo Rabbit. (I saw Taika Waititi in a little-seen, crazy, funny and dark movie from New Zealand about vampires called What We Do in the Dark.) Taika Waititi also wrote the screenplay for JoJo Rabbit from a novel by Christine Leunens. Taika Waititi also directed JoJo Rabbit. (Give the multi-talented Taika Waititi an Oscar.) A child actor named Roman Griffin Davis is perfect as JoJo Rabbit (so-named because he refuses to strangle a rabbit early in the movie). He’s cute without being cloyingly cutesie-pie. Archie Yates is another child actor who plays JoJo Rabbit’s pudgy, well-meaning friend, Yorki. There’s something reassuring and endearing about Yorki. He’s the perfect friend to be with if you’re stuck in a war.

Copyright © 2019 by Allen Kopp

The Lighthouse ~ A Capsule Movie Review

The Lighthouse ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp

The Lighthouse has to be the most unusual new movie of the year. It’s set in 1890 and shot in black and white, with an aspect ratio of approximately 1.19:1, which means the picture is practically square (instead of elongated, which is what we’re used to) to emulate early motion picture photography. The music score (with a nod to the classic film scores of Bernard Hermann) is made up of a foghorn, horns and pipes, glass harmonica and an ocean harp (a stainless steel bowl with bronze rods around the rim that gives off an ethereal sound when used struck a friction mallet). The dialogue spoken by the two characters is based on the “local color” poems and writings of Sarah Orne Jewett. All these filmmaking elements come together to spell “A-R-T” instead of a commercial project designed to generate box office revenue. (You know, like about 98% of the movies released during the year.)

The only two characters in The Lighthouse are two very different men, one younger (Robert Pattison) and the other older (Willem Dafoe). Both men are named Thomas (although the younger man lies and says his name is Winslow). The older Thomas used to be an old seafaring man and is now a lighthouse keeper who knows all about tending the light. The younger Thomas has a murder on his conscience from when he worked in logging (he let a fellow worker die when he could have saved him). He is hired for a period of four weeks to be lighthouse assistant.

The film is set entirely in and around a lighthouse on the Atlantic seacoast of the United States. It’s not an inviting, scenic or hospitable place. The work the younger Thomas does is backbreaking labor and very often involves nasty chores, such as emptying chamber pots and cleaning out the cistern. “I did not take this post be a housewife or slave,” he says defiantly. The older Thomas is something of an uncouth swine and, understandably, gets on the younger Thomas’s nerves. They sleep in very cramped quarters and are always together. The older Thomas talks incessantly, sometimes in soaring soliloquies that don’t make much sense.

The loneliness and isolation begin to play on the younger Thomas’s mind. The four weeks he was supposed to be at the lighthouse are up, but a terrible storm sets in and the person who was supposed to relieve him doesn’t show up. So, now there’s a psychological element in play. Is any of this really happening or is it all just in the younger Thomas’s head? He’s already killed one man. Will he be driven to kill again?

The Lighthouse is not for everybody, of course. If you see it, you might think it’s not your cup of tea, but you can honestly say it isn’t like anything you ever saw before. Remember The Artist in 2011, a silent, black-and-white movie set in the 1920s? The Lighthouse is as uniquely memorable as The Artist, but in its own special way.

Copyright © 2019 by Allen Kopp

They Shall Not Grow Old ~ A Capsule Movie Review

They Shall Not Grow Old ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp

We already know that war is hell. If you still doubt it, you need to see the 2018 movie documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, made for theatrical release and currently being shown on HBO.

It’s now one hundred years since World War I, called the “Great War” at the time, or better yet, “the war to end all wars” (it wasn’t). It was the world’s first (and sadly not the last) experience with global warfare. Millions of people lost their lives, were displaced from their homes, and generally made miserable by food shortages, worthless currencies and dithering leaders who probably should have been locked up at the start.

The premise of They Shall Not Grow Old is a simple one. English men who served in the front lines, in the infantry, are talking about their experiences. We don’t see them but only hear their voices. What they are saying is accompanied by moving pictures of life on the front lines, on the “Western Front” in France. Many of these men were very young at the time, no more than eighteen or nineteen years old; they had limited experience of the world, let alone of war. While fighting the enemy at the frontlines, they lived through the worst and most terrifying experiences imaginable, knowing that at any moment a shell bearing their name might come out of the sky and slam into their heads. “You never see the shell that kills you,” they say, “because it’s traveling faster than the speed of sound.”

What makes They Shall Not Grow Old so impressive is that the hundred-year-old film clips have been reprocessed (digitized, colorized, enlarged, restored), giving them a sense of immediacy and a “you are there” feeling. Sound has been added, making it appear that the long-dead people in the film clips are talking, when you know they couldn’t be talking because synchronized sound in film hadn’t been invented yet. I don’t know how this technique is accomplished, but I guess it can be explained by a cliched phrase such as “state-of-the-art technology.” Whatever you call it, They Shall Not Grow Old is worth seeing as a testament to human suffering and the lunacy of war.

Copyright © 2019 by Allen Kopp