Like Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed “They Shall Not Grow Old,” in which the “Lord of the Rings” director breathtakingly, if not eerily, brought the men of the Great War back to life on the big screen, the National WWI Museum and Memorial has set out to provide a contemporary glimpse of life in the trenches.
In an effort to modernize history and engage a younger generation, the museum sifted through hundreds of black and white archival footage — spending almost 350 hours over the course of six months — to eventually curate and create 500 World War I GIFs.
“The Museum hopes that with this exclusive collection, more people will make the contemporary connections between what took place then and now, with a bit of humor and sass,” museum officials said in a release.
Sass is indeed on full display as ordinary-men-turned-soldiers seek moments of levity amid the mud and carnage on the Western Front.
In the short clips, soldiers can be seen playing cards, giving one another black eyes during boxing matches, and tearing rotator cuffs during a poorly performed game of catch.
In others, men cheekily mean mug for the camera with their gas masks on, while others simply refuse to skip leg day, opting instead to execute from-the-top-make-it-drop on the mud-caked floor dance moves.
The museum is not the first to embark on such an endeavor — in 2016 the National Archives launched a GIPHY channel. However, the latest GIF cache is the largest to be released from the Great War-era.
“These GIFs provide a small glimpse into daily life during the war and show how much — and how little — has changed in the past century,” the release said.
So, feeling happy? Mad? Sad? The museum’s got a GIF for that.
Check out the full round-up on the National WWI Museum and Memorial’s official Giphy page.
Claire Barrett is a digital media editor at HistoryNet and a World War II researcher with an unparalleled affinity for Sir Winston Churchill and Michigan football.