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Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas)

2006

PG-13 CC

Based on the true story of three armies in the bloody trenches of World War I - and the miraculous Christmas Eve truce they unexpectedly forge.

Starring:
Diane Kruger, Natalie Dessay
Runtime:
1 hour, 56 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Military & War, Drama, Romance, Music
Director Christian Carion
Starring Diane Kruger, Natalie Dessay
Supporting actors Benno Fürmann, Rolando Villazón, Guillaume Canet, Gary Lewis, Dany Boon, Daniel Brühl, Lucas Belvaux, Alex Ferns, Steven Robertson, Frank Witter, Bernard Le Coq, Ian Richardson, Thomas Schmauser, Joachim Bißmeier, Robin Laing, Michel Serrault, Suzanne Flon, Calum Beaton
Studio Sony Pictures Classics
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
On Christmas Eve in 1914, the first year of World War I, there was an unauthorized truce between the German and the British/French armies. Both sides first agreed to bury the dead, and a mass was held during this brief time. Some soldiers even enjoyed playing football in no man's land.

`Joyeux Noël' is inspired by a real-life event that really happened on Christmas Eve at the several front lines during the First World War, and presents the material in a pretty orthodox way, employing the well-handled multi-plot device, in which we will witness the joys and the pains of each character: Guillaume Canet as French lieutenant, Daniel Brühl as German officer, and Gary Lewis as Scottish military chaplain. The cast playing the soldiers are unanimously good, but it is Gary Lewes as tormented military chaplain who is most impressive among them.

'Joyeux Noël' also has a sub-plot about a beautiful soprano singer played by Diane Kruger and tenor singer (and her husband) by Benno Fürmann. I don't know to what extent the film generalized these historical events it shows, but I think their love story looks less effective before the more realistic episodes about the solider in trench. Still these songs are beautiful, and so is Diane Kruger (whose voice is dubbed by soprano singer Natalie Dessay), showing the power of the music which is timeless and universal.

But to some viewers (including me), smaller things would remain more strongly in their mind. A stray cat found in trench is given different names by the German and the French soldiers. There is a good-natured French soldier Ponchel, who sneaks out of the trench every night to meet his family living behind the enemy line.
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Format: DVD
that glorious song of old,

from angels bending near the earth

to touch their harps of gold.

"Peace on earth, good will to men,

from heaven's gracious King.

The world in solemn stillness lay

to hear the angels sing."

On December 24, 1914 a spontaneous, unscheduled, unapproved truce among German, French and British soldiers took hold in various sectors along the front lines. Soldiers exchanged cigarettes and alcohol, played football (soccer), and allowed the removal and burial of dead soldiers from the frozen tundra of no mans land. "Joyeux Noel", a French-made film with an international cast directed by Christian Carion, is a fictionalized account of this truce. It is a wonderful film that in its own way stands with or close Stanley Kubrick's "Paths of Glory" as one of the great films about the horrors of what has come to be known as the First World War.

The film opens in the days and years before the start of the "Great War". We see British (in this instance Scottish), French, and German schoolchildren absorbing lessons in Kiplingesque nationalism and empire-building that taught each group that God was on their side and demonized the evil German, Briton, or French. After a quick introduction to the main characters the war begins in all its brutality. The Scottish and French troops rise up from their trenches and are mowed down by German machine-gunners. The dead and wounded are left in no-mans land. At the same time we see the respective high commands, enjoying the comfort of life war out of harms way. As night falls on Christmas Eve, German soldiers place small Christmas trees atop their trenches. A bagpiper plays a Christmas tune and the German soldiers applaud.
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Format: DVD
With our country at war and Christmas coming up, this seemed like a timely movie to share with my family. I'd heard it was based on actual events from World War I, a Christmas Eve on which three sides of the war in the trenches laid down their weapons to share in an evening of peace.

"Joyeux Noel" is not only beautifully directed and photographed, it uses a cast of great actors. The story revolves around a Scottish priest caught up in the drama, two German opera singers caught between love and patriotism, and a French lieutenant missing his pregnant, sick wife. Other characters are included as the movie meanders toward the momentous evening on December 24, 1914. For American audiences raised on constant drama, this might seem to lack fireworks; yet the ideas here are potent, made all the more so by their basis in fact. When one man makes a simple sacrifice for the sake of his superior, he pays a price that underlines the irony of war.

In conclusion, the movie is a moving tribute to men of three nations who saw past hate and political intrigue long enough to share in their humanity. The true enemies reveal themselves as those who stick dogmatically to their own agendas. This is a message worth weighing--spiritually and politically--in light of our current Christmas situation.
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Format: DVD
Writer/director Christian Carion ('Une hirondelle a fait le printemps' aka 'The Girl from Paris') is unafraid to write and create cinematic tales that touch the heart as well as the mind. 'Joyeux Noël' is a story of war and its effects on soldiers that goes far beyond sentimentality (or the opposite emphasis on brutality as found in American films) and offers the viewer insights to the responses of young men's minds to the monster of war and how they cope.

Based on a true story, the film opens with the usual callous killing among three groups of soldiers - German, French, and Scottish - who face an oncoming Christmas Eve in the trenches, the realities of fighting have precluded their getting time to retreat for air. But a miracle happens: among the Germans is a famous opera tenor Nikolaus Sprink (Benno Fürmann) who has aligned with his fellow troops in the trenches, hoping he can bring some minor sense of Christmas and understanding to them. His soprano partner Anna Sorensen (Diane Kruger) finds a way to be with him in the trenches on Christmas Eve, 1914. Meanwhile the disgruntle troops of all three sectors are planning meager festivities and a bit of relaxation even in the trenches as the bodies of the day's plunder lie in the snow of no man's land. We get to know the French Lieutenant Audebert (Guillaume Canet) and his orderly Ponchel (Dany Boon), the German head of the regiment Horstmayer (Daniel Brühl), and the Scots - especially the priest/medic Palmer (Gary Lewis).

Christmas Eve comes and the voice of Sprink (in reality the tenor Rolando Villazón) sings 'Stille Nacht', rising out of the trenches to sing in the open of no man's land. Soon he is accompanied by the Scottish bagpipes and the 'chorus' of the Germans, the Scots and the French.
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