On Christmas Day 1914, French, Scottish, and German soldiers left their respective trenches on the front line to battle it out in a game of soccer. This is a true story, known as the Christmas Truce of 1914, and it is one of the best stories out there. Joyeux Noel may be a little-known film, but it is one of the Greats, and has been a staple on my family’s holiday movie list for years.
Joyeux Noel puts life in perspective. Rather than your traditional holiday film where everyone sits ‘round a roaring fire and drinks coco, Joyeux Noel throws you into the trenches, introducing you to characters from Germany, Scotland, and France, and individualizing the ‘solider’ from the ‘army’. The film’s use of all three national languages (with subtitles) is brilliant and fits perfectly with the story’s message: a man is a man, no matter where he comes from. This feature is just one of many which links the viewer to the characters, and makes the whole lot ask, “What are we fighting for?”
Christian Carion does a fantastic job of connecting all of his characters before they even meet. A daily alarm clock in the French trench, for example, may act as the mid-morning signal for the Germans, while rowdy soldiers on the Scot’s side may irritate the French. Each man has his place in the story and Carion makes good use of them all, creating seamless transitions from one trench to the next.
Joyeux Noel puts WWI into perspective by stripping away the soldiers’ armour and allegiance, and turning them into men. Equal men. Clever comebacks like, “You don’t have to invade Paris to drop round for a drink” individualize the soldiers, and make them more relatable. Representing a time when many thought their boys would be home by Christmas, Joyeux Noel is an important reminder of what the holidays are all about. I may recommend a lot of movies, but I implore you to see this one, especially if you’re looking for a December film that doesn’t drown you in sappy morals, talking reindeer, or tinsel.Joyeux Noel is hands down a 10/10. So get the tissues ready, practice your Scottish, and grab a friend, because you may want a hug when it’s all over.
This review can also be found at http://thecinemaid.net/2013/12/17/joyeux-noel-2005/#more-911