2022 Cinema of Law: They Shall Not Grow Old

Tuesday, March 8, 2022
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.


Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield, MA 01201

Contact for 2022 Cinema of Law: They Shall Not Grow Old

Berkshire Law Library


76 East St., Pittsfield, MA 01201

Overview of 2022 Cinema of Law: They Shall Not Grow Old

Each year in March, the Berkshire Law Library, in partnership with the Berkshire Athenaeum and the Berkshire Bar Association, holds the "Cinema of Law" program. We show films about the law, either documentaries or dramas, and we invite attorneys or judges to speak about the legal issues raised by the films. The speakers generally talk for about 15-20 minutes before the films, and stay to answer questions afterwards. 

The presentations begin at 6 p.m. in the auditorium downstairs in the Berkshire Athenaeum, on Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield. 

Attention Berkshire Community College Students: This program has been approved for Forum Credit.

They Shall Not Grow Old  (2018)    

Introduction by Attorney Michael Hinkley, with enlightening comments on the legal aspects of the film.

This documentary film about World War I uses original war film footage, restored with groundbreaking computer restoration techniques to recreate the look and feeling of what it was like to be a soldier in World War I (1914-1918), without the archaic look and jerkiness that characterizes film footage from that time. Much of this old film footage has languished in the vaults of London’s Imperial War Museum for years. The filmmaker Peter Jackson and his team first restored hours of old black and white film to remove grain, scratches, and burn marks, then fixed all of the film so it doesn’t jiggle or blur, and standardized the speed (from a hodge-podge of various speeds in which film was shot at the time), and colorized it. None of the original film had sound. Voices of the soldiers in the restored footage were added by reading their lips, and then (for the sake of accuracy) hiring voice actors from the same area of Great Britain that the soldiers had hailed from. All other sound effects are also added. The filmmaker decided not to use narration, but instead to let the audience hear the voices of the soldiers themselves, so we experience the conflict as it happened, with a realism we are not accustomed to in documentary films from this era. The film focuses deliberately on British forces, rather than all the nationalities involved, as it was felt that their experience was similar to any other nation’s soldiers in this war; at one point, German POWS also appear.

The film begins in black and white, and switches to color in the trenches. No footage exists of actual hand to hand combat in the trenches, but dramatic pencil sketches drawn at that time are used.  The film is a rare achievement, not to be missed.

The title of the film comes from a line (somewhat altered in order) in the poem For the Fallen (1914) by Laurence Binyon:  “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.” 

The film premiered at the London Film Festival in 2018 in the presence of Prince William, and copies were sent to schools in the United Kingdom on the same day.

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