Peter Jackson is best known today for making massive fantasy epics, thanks to helming six films that take place within J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth. However, for Jackson's next project, he'll be doing something very different. He's working on a documentary about the first World War which is set to debut this fall.
2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the "war to end all wars" and Peter Jackson says that he felt the centennial was a good time to contribute something about this particular point in history. Jackson tells The Hollywood Reporter he has a family connection to World War I which has always made the era fascinating for him.
The documentary is currently untitled, but it will use archival footage from Britain's Imperial War Museums and audio from the archives of the BBC. The film is set to debut at the BFI London Film Festival before airing on TV in the UK. After that, copies of the movie are already planned to be distributed to schools so that classrooms in the UK can use the film to teach students about the war.
World War I is one of those parts of history that tends to get overlooked. It happened far enough back in history that nobody who was part of it is still alive. Add to that the fact that it has been so overshadowed by the more recent World War II, which has become a much larger part of pop culture, by virtue of the fact that it has a much clearer enemy that is much easier to portray in films, and it isn't that surprising that such documentaries are necessary.
There does appear to be a resurgence in interest in World War I recently. Perhaps the anniversary has caused others to think about it as well. Over in the world of video games, one of the most popular first-person shooters in recent years is Battlefield 1. The most recent entry in the long-running series is set during the first world war, rather the far more popular second one.
By virtue of the fact that Peter Jackson's documentary will be out this fall, it technically qualifies as his next film. The director has been working on another of his more traditional epics as he is part of the team producing Mortal Engines, a post-apocalyptic story about cities that move and consume other cities. That movie will be released in December.
Hopefully, Peter's Jackson's documentary will see a television release stateside as well. There are probably a lot of history buffs who would love to see it. There is always value in remembering history, especially for something like a global war that is far too often overlooked.