Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Joyeux Noel indeed

I have become just enchanted with a movie called Joyeux Noel, the story of Christmas Eve 1914 on the front lines of the newly declared Great War, now known as World War I. Taking the true story of how soldiers on both sides of the line climbed out of their trenches and shared some holiday joy together, the film weaves a story around a farm where German soldiers are settled in against French and Scottish soldiers - and where a Prussian opera star takes advantage of a chance to spent an evening with her opera-star lover on the German line.

In the aftermath of a truly wondrous series of encounters, the soldiers on both lines are inevitably punished for fraternizing with the enemy - but the film gives you a strong sense that almost all of the men involved are better for the experience and with no regrets.

They are betrayed by their letters home, which inevitably pass through censors, who read, among other messages, "We and the British decided to accept the Krauts' invitation. We'll go spend New Year's Eve with them. We'll sing that song the Scots taught us, and above all, drink to the health of all those bastards who, sitting pretty, sent us here to slug it out." A worthy toast!

This is a gentle movie that shows how stupid and useless a thing war is, without great quantities of blood and guts, simply by showing normal men talking and singing and interacting with each other. It's an achingly brilliant movie that should warm the heart of people who renounce the initiation of force. The more this movie sinks in, the more I love it.

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Anonymous Taran Jordan said...

Beautifully said, B.W. I too loved this poignant and heartrending film, but didn't know how to say so. You found the words. Thanks.

1:44 PM  

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