Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas)

 A good friend of mine recommended that I watch Joyeux Noël, a movie that was released in 2005, directed by Christian Carion, and starring Guillaume Canet, Diane Kruger, DanyBoon and Daniel Brühl (who you may have seen in Inglorious Basterds). On a day I was feeling a bit down, I decided to try, ready to stop as soon as it became depressing.

But no, it is not depressing, it is beautiful. The film is set in 1914, at the beginning of World War I. A few images at the beginning are a bit difficult to watch, but then we get into the story. On Christmas Eve, sections of the Western Front call a truce and celebrate Christmas together. Germans, Scotts and French soldiers fraternize and share stories and liquor. They build friendships, knowing of course their superiors would not tolerate this behavior.
Horstmayer: [Speaking to Lieutenant Audebert and his troops] Our artillery will shell you in 10 minutes, so I suggest you come shelter in my trench. 
The film is broadly based on true events, although here it is very romanticized. The part with the opera singers is a bit too much, and the role of Diana Kruger was unnecessary, although it added a bit of coulour and glamour. The film shows the insanity of war, with all sides clearly forced to be there, and as shocking example the sermon by the English bishop.

Joyeux Noël shows the futility of warfare and shows it is impossible to kill another human being after a true connection has been made. It uses humour, violence, compassion to show who these characters are and one ends up caring about them and what will happen to them, whether French, Scottish or German.

Palmer: Tonight, these men were drawn to that altar like it was a fire in the middle of winter. Even those who aren't devout came to warm themselves.

Horstmayer: I heard last night about your wife. If you like, I can get a letter through to her.
Lieutenant Audebert: Why would you do that? If you got caught...
Horstmayer: [scoffs] One letter won't stop us winning the war. And anyhow, when we'll have taken Paris and it's over, you can invite us for a drink in Rue Vavin.
Lieutenant Audebert: You don't have to invade Paris to drop round for a drink

No professional techniques here, not historically accurate, some inconsistencies, but this is just touching and sending a positive message. I think it could be a Christmas classic. I saw some critics on the unlikelihood of the story, on the many historical mistakes made. I do not care. When I saw this, I was touched and inspired. That's enough for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment