Thursday, December 25, 2008


Holiday Movie Category: Saving Private Jesus


No Santa, no reindeer, no Wal-Mart, no fruitcake, no greeting cards, no turkey, no presents, no wrapping paper, no cheap sentiment, only a moving statement on the human condition in times of morbid desperation. Oh, and candy canes!

More details here.


X-mas Eve, 1914, the Western Front. The Scotts, the French, and their enemy the Germans are in a stalled battled and everyone’s nerves on are edge on all sides. We meet two Scottish brothers and their vicar who enlisted in the army after the declaration of war was announced. One of the brothers dies in battle and the vicar, now a tough-as-nails medic, tries to comfort the other anguished brother. We meet an officious French lieutenant who must deal with his equally officious General father and his high expectations. And we meet German husband/wife opera singers separated by the war, but reunited on X-mas Eve to sing to the troops in the trenches. In one miraculous moment, the three factions are united by song and they agree to an unofficial X-mas ceasefire. They sing, drink, bury their dead, and play football the following morning. Unfortunately, they all must face the consequences for their actions for displaying humanity in an inhumane situation but the impact of this true story left a mark on the legacy of World War I and the unifying power of the holiday.


Joyeux Noel is a heartfelt, visually arresting film with a somber, if a bit heavy-handed, anti-war message. The film focuses not so much about the brutality and mindlessness of war (a given); it’s more about the simple things that unite human beings despite our tenacity to kill each other. However, at times the movie may be a little too eager to uplift, given that the true outcome of the truce and the fate of the men who participated is kind of a downer. But the film manages to make up for with terrific characters and wonderful ending. The story of the X-mas truce is a remarkable one and Joyeux Noel tells it with gentile humor and simple grace. And it’s comforting to know that for one brief moment in history a group of men was able to put down their guns, share some cheer, and forget the war if only for a single day.


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