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:: Joyeux Noel

Set in 1914 amid the muddy trenches and flying shrapnel of World War I, Joyeux Noel is a touching tale of an unlikely reconciliation in battle.

French and British troops side by side in the trenches are fighting the Germans barely a hundred metres across the freezing field. Men like Scottish Anglican priest, Palmer (Gary Lewis) and French Lieutenant Adebert (Guillaume Canet) on one side, and popular Berlin Opera tenor Sprink (Benno Furmann), on the other. Sprink's lover, the soprano Anna (Diane Kruger) uses her wits and charm to arrange a Christmas recital for a Prussian nobleman so she can sing for the soldiers at the trenches - just to be united with her lover for at least one night.

When Sprink places a small Christmas tree on top of the trenches on the German side, and the Scottish bagpipes begin playing carols, a tentatively humane Christmas mood begins to settle on the war scarred men. The officers meet and agree to a brief ceasefire, and the Christmas spirit flows.

The soldiers put down their weapons to share wine and food, exchange photographs and memories and play a game of soccer in the snow. It was an extraordinary act of human generosity and humility - and a true event.

The notion of a ceasefire at Christmas, in the middle of a bloody battle may sound contrived, but there is nothing contrived in how the events unfold.

It is also good to see that the Germans do not receive the stereotypical treatment with which Hollywood films normally render them.

The knowledge that a Second World War followed less than thirty years later makes the film's message even more poignant.

Joyeux Noël is a heart-warming story about courage and dignity. Anchored by an excellent international cast this deeply moving and uplifting film features scenes of great bravery, simple decency and extraordinary humour. With a genuine poignancy in its celebration of the way a shared humanity transcended the madness of war, this elegant film may one day be considered as a European classic.

DVD Extras

•Decoding of the film by Christian Carion (director)
•Music and songs on No Man’s Land, incl.
Training the actors to sing
The Choir & the Orchestra
The Ave Maria
The German Tenor

•Director’s commentary
•5:1 Dolby digital
•Beyond The Trenches – story of the film
•Deleted Scenes – incl. Alternative ending