They Shall Not Grow Old is made from remastered 100-year-old video clips from the Imperial War Museum – with modern production techniques used to present them in unprecedented detail.
Jackson – who has won three Oscars – said he had “always been fascinated” by the war and wanted to find a way to “bring new life to the stories of ordinary people living through extraordinary times”.
“I wanted to reach through the fog of time and pull these men into the modern world, so they can regain their humanity once more, rather than be seen only as Charlie Chaplin-type figures in the vintage archive film,” he said.
“By using our computing power to erase the technical limitations of 100-year cinema, we can see and hear the Great War as they experienced it.”
Image: The studio that worked on the Middle-earth trilogies is involved in the project
The Hobbit filmmaker has spent months studying the footage, which will be complemented by original audio from the archives and the voices of war veterans.
Production has taken place at WingNut Films in New Zealand – the same company Jackson used in the making of both his Middle-earth trilogies and his 2005 remake of King Kong.
The film was originally announced in January as part of events organised by the Imperial War Museum and arts organisation 14-18 NOW.
Image: The director won Oscars for his work on Lord of the Rings
November will mark 100 years since the end of the war and They Shall Not Grow Old will premiere on 16 October, during the BFI London Film Festival and a few weeks before Armistice Day.
Tricia Tuttle, artistic director at the festival, said Jackson‘s film would “offer new understanding of the human experience of life at the front”.
“Using original audio and moving image archive, he allows the soldiers to tell their own stories,” she said.
“The work his team have done on the materials, adding colour and converting to 3D, is painstaking and beautiful.
“It makes these people from 100 years ago seem so alive and gives an uncanny sense the footage was shot recently.”
Its debut at the festival will be followed by a post-screening Q&A between Jackson and film critic Mark Kermode.
The film will also be shown at cinemas and other venues across the country, in both 2D and 3D.