In My Father's House

Poems, Prayers, Inspirations, Photos and Musings about life, love and what it means to be a child of the Father

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Joyeux Noël

(aka Merry Christmas)

Beguiling in its simplicity yet profoundly moving and honest in its portrayal of the human side of war, Joyeux Noël, is a movie that must be seen by people of all nations and faiths. Wars haves so ravaged us and have made us so cynical about the nature of men as killing machines that we sometimes tend to forget that soldiers, though they may belong to an enemy state, are humans too.

Set during the First World War somewhere between the borders of France and Germany, French, German and Scottish soldiers discovered for themselves the absurdity of war. In just one Christmas night of fellowship and truce they had learned more than they could in their lifetime: the meaning of brotherhood that binds all men and women. When the German tenor Nikolaus Sprink (Benno Fürmann) sang for his troops to lift their spirits up, little did he know that he would start a spontaneous reaction with the opposing camps.

As soon as the Scots heard his beautiful and heart-rending rendition of Silent Night, they joined him with their bagpipe instruments. A little later the French joined the fraternal exchange of singing and they crossed the no man's land to exchange their champagne with chocolates from their enemies. Captains of the three regiments declared the night a night of peace and soldiers of the three camps rejoiced and celebrated Christmas as if they were at home with their own brothers.

Filled with poignant scenes of the anxious and bitter separation of parents with their children, brothers with brothers and of lovers, Joyeux Noel managed not to pander on over-sentimentality. It has touches of light humor and beams with hope and optimism. Towards the end of Christmas night, Fr. Palmer (Gary Lewis) celebrated Mass for all of them. It was very moving to see and hear the battle-scarred and war-hardened soldiers forget their native languages and responded in Latin.

Equally noteworthy in the movie is Ana Sorensen's (Diane Krüger) portrayal of the faithful girlfriend to Sprink. Her haunting voice (I don't know it it is really hers) lent a chilling background to the already freezing temperature of the battlefield.

Joyeux Noël brings home the true message of Christmas: that we can see through the barriers of skin color, nationality and religion if we take to heart the meaning of being all sons and daughters of one God.


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