Joyeux Noel is an extraordinary movie that portrays the Christmas Truce that took place on the Western Front during World War I. While there were several incidents along the entire front, the focus of this film is on one particular area which contained soldiers from Germany, Scotland, and France. Joyeux Noel is set in 1914; the war has been raging for less than a year, and the soldiers are trying to find a way to celebrate Christmas on the front line, apart from their loved ones. What ends up happening on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day defies belief as both armies head out from behind their trenches and engage each other in friendship, not as enemies. They begin to realize that their counterparts are not the monsters they might have thought them to be, but rather they are kind, ordinary human beings who miss their loved ones just as much as they do. By the end of the movie, both sides realize that, in reality, they have no quarrel with their so called enemies, but rather feel as though they have more in common with them than with their own leaders who have sent them off to war. By far, the most incredible and moving part of Joyeux Noel comes on the night of Christmas Eve when the Scots and Germans, each playing and singing their own Christmas carols, eventually begin taking cues from one another, until they are united in a harmonious melody which transcends the war. As the music gains momentum and becomes more emotional, the soldiers are slowly drawn from behind their trenches and begin their Christmas celebration together.
Joyeux Noel was made in France, and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2006. Although it is set at the time of Christmas, and its title means Merry Christmas in French, it can be viewed at any time of the year. It speaks of hope, and shares with us the message that even in the most trying times, the goodness of humanity can transcend anything, even the horrors of war.
Rated PG-13 116 Minutes
(If you are interested, here is the link to a book in our collection called Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce. It is a nonfiction work which discusses the events portrayed in Joyeux Noel.)