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:: Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas)

Peace and harmony on the front lines of World War 1. Yes, that’s the scenario played out with a handful of British, French, and German soldiers on Christmas Eve 1914.

This film is a European co-production based on a true story. The daily slaughters were halted when officers and soldiers put down their weapons to share Christmas carols, food and wine, and exchange photographs in a show of extraordinary goodwill. The Germans were led by Horstmayer (Daniel Bruhl), the French by Lt Audebert (Guillaume Canet), and the Scottish contingent by Gordon (Alex Ferns).

Amongst the German force was a famous tenor Nikolaus Sprink (Benno Furmann) and he is able to be visited by his Danish girlfriend Anna Sorenson (Diane Kruger), who is also an opera singer. They find themselves in the trenches on Christmas Eve. When they hear the sound of the Scottish bagpipes, they begin to sing without fear and protection. However, the feeling of sentimentality and peace leads the respective commanding officers to call a temporary truce.

The heartfelt and compelling story see each side’s officers join in an exchange of Christmas wishes. They wonder why they are there – sent off to war – and what might happen when the truce ends. We witness amazing scenes of Christmas carols being sung by all and a Christmas tree placed on top of the trench.

Writer-director Christina Carion has made a deeply uplifting film that may be seen as over-sentimental, but which contains simple decency and great characteristics. Amongst the soldiers are two British brothers Jonathan and William who rush to enlist for war and accompanied by their local priest, Palmer (Gary Lewis), who registers as a stretcher bearer. The French Lieutenant, Audebert, is an interesting person and is under the command of his father General Francais (Bernard Le Coq).

‘Joyeux Noel’ is beautifully shot and acted. It’s hard to fault the film’s force and it is in a high class in the pursuit of humanity and hope in the face of battlefield horror. It delivers a powerful message.