Sunday, December 22, 2013

Joyeux Noel




This is a re-post of a post from three years ago about two DVD's, one a favorite opera, and the other a foreign film, both set in the Christmas season, and both set in Europe. The first is an opera set in Belle Epoque France; the latter is a 1914 war story that really is an anti-war story.

The opera was one I've written about before (when Sacramento Opera performed it in Spring of 2010): Puccini's La Boheme. In this case, La Boheme, the Movie, stars Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon as Mimi and Rodolfo. Both their voices are lush and lyrical, as if the composer wrote the music with them in mind, and their acting brought the story alive. All the cast was good, and the costumes and sets made scenes seem like impressionist paintings in motion. This is such a layered story, each time I hear and see the opera, I have a new appreciation for the breadth of understanding Pucci was able to convey in the music. I marvel how composers achieve on musical scores what I struggle to achieve in just words. I can never can see or hear this opera too many times, and I plan to buy the DVD.

The second movie was Joyeux Noel, a 2005 film that was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film. The individual stories highlighted were fictitious, but the over all story is based on a true happening on a Christmas Eve in 1914, in the theater of war, rather than in an opera theater: Scottish, French, and German troops agreed to a cease fire, and put down their weapons to celebrate Christmas Eve, even warning each other of planned shellings the next day and offering refuge in each other's trenches when the shellings occurred. For all three military groups, the only thing that saved troops from being tried for treason was the fact that 200 or so in each case would have to be tried. Instead, all the participants were transferred to other fronts to make sure it wouldn't happen again. It was a remarkable film, and a story I won't forget.

So here it is, the New Year, and the Christmas message hovering still. Best wishes for the coming year, and for a time of peace, when people can be united again in their common humanity.

19 comments:

Tanya Lynne Reimer said...

Happy holidays! All the best in the new year. Those films do sound interesting and I haven't seen either.

L.G. Smith said...

Joyeux Noel is a good movie. I was talking to a friend about it the other day, as he's a WW1 buff. Before I saw the film, I had no idea any of that had taken place. Pretty special.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Tanya, both films will give you an uplift, in differing ways. La Boheme for the beautiful music. Joyeux Noel for the reminder of how good people at heart.

LG, yes it was an eye opener to me. I haven't really gotten over the fact that these soldiers put away their weapons to share Xmas, and then tried to help each other out the following day.

Rosi said...

I had no idea there was a film about the Christmas Eve truce. I will definitely check that out. Thanks for telling me about it. Merry Christmas to you and Rajan.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rosi, yes, it was new to me, as well, and I just happened to pick that DVD up at Office Max one year for $9.99, if you can believe. Haven't seen it there since, I think they change each year. I loved that film. It's become part of my Xmas.

Happy Holidays to you, too.

Julia Hones said...

Thank you for these recommendations, Elizabeth.
Merry Christmas!
I look forward to reading The fourth Wish in 2014 (I ordered it!).

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Julia, I'm so pleased you ordered The Fourth Wish. Hope you enjoy it. How old is your daughter?

Connie Keller said...

I hope you had a lovely Christmas. I've always wanted to watch Joyeux Noel, but we've got three sons who usually aren't very patient with foreign movies. But they're getting older...maybe next Christmas.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Connie, whenever you get a chance to see it, it's well-worth watching. Meanwhile, all good wishes for a Happy New Year.

Margo Berendsen said...

Oh thank you for reminding me of Joyeux Noel - I had planned to watch it and then forgot about it! I have heard the bare bones of the story and was curious about more details.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Margo, thanks for stopping by. It's a lovely film; I was so moved by it. It won awards when it came out, but I wish it could be shown on popular channels every Christmas.

Victoria Lindstrom said...

Here's wishing you all the best in 2014, Elizabeth! BTW - we own a DVD of Joyeux Noel and watch it every year during the holidays. I agree: it's a very lovely and thought-provoking film.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Vicki, It's an ideal film to watch over the Xmas holidays, I think. It's the spirit of the season in ways we forget.

Denise Covey said...

I haven't seen this movie Elizabeth, but it sounds wonderful. I couldn't help thinking of all those still suffering in war zones. I hope someone was kind to them at Christmas!

All the best for a wonderful, writerly New Year!!

Denise

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Denise, I second that thought. I still keep reading about the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you get a chance, see it. Even look it up and buy it. I just stumbled on it by chance at Office Max one year and was so glad I did.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I have not heard of the movie Joyeux Noel, will check it out.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

It's really a beautiful story, Rachna. And it's based on a true event. Except for the personal story of two characters that made for the "plot", this wasn't fiction, it really happened.

Carol Riggs said...

Hi, Elizabeth! Oh, I love Puccini! I've seen a live version of La Boheme, in the Portland, OR, area years ago. I haven't seen Joyeux Noel, though. Sounds interesting, gripping!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Carol, I love Puccini, too! He's probaby my favorite opera composer, although I love opera in general and have many favorite operas that aren't by him. But La Boheme and Madame Butterfly are both operas that knock me out!