We may be used to Peter Jackson presenting some epic high fantasy wars to the big screen, but the director will be switching his attention to WWI for a new documentary. Jackson's last directorial effort was The Hobbit trilogy, a three-part adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel and prequels to his own Lord of the Rings trilogy. While Jackson's second Legendarium film project was not as well received as his Oscar-winning first, the New Zealand director is still a hot name in the filmmaking world.
Jackson's next project is an adaptation of the novel Mortal Engines, which he is producing and co-writing while his longtime collaborator Christian Rivers directs. The science-fiction post-apocalyptic book series turned blockbuster will hit theaters this December. But fans of Jackson and his large-scale epics are curious to see what he will cook up next from the director's chair - and it's not exactly what you might expect.
Per Variety, Peter Jackson is creating a feature documentary about World War I, just in time for the centennial of the war's end. The documentary, currently unnamed, will pull footage from the archives of the BBC and London's Imperial War Museum. Jackson, with the attention to detail that filmgoers are used to, will ensure that the footage, most of it never-before-seen, will be fully restored and hand-colorized. Jackson and the producers are looking to give viewers an educational and intimate look at the conflict, looking at hundreds of hours of interviews with veterans of the then "world to end all wars.":
“We have made a movie which shows the experience of what it was like to fight in this war, not strategy [or] battles”, Jackson said, describing the scope of the film:
“We’re making a film [that is] not the usual film you would expect on the First World War. We’re making a film that shows this incredible footage in which the faces of the men just jump out at you. It’s the people that come to life in this film.”
The film will premiere at the BFI London Film Festival this fall, before a U.K. wide release. Additionally, the film will be distributed to every secondary school in Britain.
The Lord of the Rings books were essentially history books of a fictional conflict, and Jackson successfully translated that into a film series that captured both the large scope of the conflict and the intimate stories of the individual players. With that storytelling skill set at his disposal, filmgoers should expect the same nuance and quality from this upcoming documentary.
We'll keep you updated for when a concrete release date for the documentary comes to light.