Movie: Joyeux Noel

I had to turn on the English subtitles to watch this movie released in 2005. The story is based on the real-life fraternization that happened along the front on Christmas Day during World War I.

Boys grew up in England, France, and Germany, learning to fear and hate each other. When war broke out, propaganda had already saturated those countries enough for the young men to have no problem shooting each other.

One of the heroes of the story was a famous German tenor (the singing voice came from someone else) who was called from the Opera to the front with the rest of the men. He was given no special treatment because of his fame. Late at night on Christmas Eve, something magical happened.

Scottish troops began playing their bagpipes. After their song finished, the German tenor sang to his men “Stille Nacht”. While he sang, the bagpipes joined in. Soon, the tenor raised his head above the trenches and stood for all to see, and sang to his men and to the men across the field.

Music united them. Music and the unity of the season and the spirit of Christmas joined their hearts until they called a cease fire.

Two other heroes, the officer from the French side and the officer from the German side, spoke to each other about a place in France they both knew. Men who had been shooting at each other just a few hours ago, began shaking hands. The officers and the privates walked to men from the “enemy lines” and visited with them. After getting to know the enemy, the enemy became human – and hard to shoot.

The emotion following the change of events was powerful. Surprising and expected at the same time.

I find it hard to think of a war movie as beautiful, but this one had moments of tenderness that made it feel that, for that one moment, everyone had forgotten the war. And, for that one moment, it was beautiful.

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