Friday, December 18, 2015

Joyeux Noel, A True Christmas Message


German soldiers of the 134th Saxon Regiment pose with men of the Royal
Warwickshire Regiment in 'No Man's Land' on the Western Front in
December 2014. Photo is in the Public Domain. You can read the
article HERE

I am returning for a third time to an earlier post about a film that still moves me deeply: Joyeux Noel, the 2005 film that was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film. This has become my favorite Christmas movie, and I watch it each year.

The individual stories highlighted in the film were fictitious, but the over all story is based on a true happening on a Christmas Eve in 1914, in the theater of war: Scottish, French, and German troops agreed to a cease fire, and put down their weapons to celebrate Christmas Eve. Bonds were formed. The next day, troops  even warned each other of planned shellings and offered refuge in each other's trenches when the shellings occurred.

Last year, the  Sacramento Bee published an article about this phenomenon, a phenomenon that occurred in several places across Belgium and across the Western Front. One such place was Flanders Field, (the site of John McCrae’s famous poem later, comparing the blood of slain British warriors to red poppies.) 

On Christmas Eve, German soldiers began playing music familiar to both German and British soldiers. Soon an informal truce was struck. Troops visited each other, gave each other food and small gifts. Some played games. For a little while, Peace broke out. Afterwards, as in the movie, army generals made sure it would not happen again. In the following war years, at Christmastime, generals stepped up the fighting to ensure no one would even think of a truce.

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 such an event wouldn't happen again.

Joyeux Noel is a remarkable film--a reminder that we are human first, and that the human impulse is toward peace. It is the political impulse that moves nations to war.

So here it is, the New Year on its way, the Christmas message hovering still. We still live in a troubled world, wondering how to meet the challenges.

Best wishes for a time of true peace, when people can be united again in their common humanity.

What is your favorite Christmas movie?


6 comments:

Richard Hughes said...

I'll have to find that movie to watch.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Richard, you can probably Google it and find it. It's well worth watching. Have a great Christmas and a good year ahead.

Rosi said...

I haven't seen this one but just ordered it from the Sacramento Library. My favorite Christmas movie -- can't decide between It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. My kids and grandkids all love A Christmas Story, but I can't stand it. Have a great holiday season.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Rosi, I think you will really like this one! I remember Miracle on 34th Street! I like that and It's a Wonderful Life. I think I'm leaning more to 34th Street, though--Edmund Gwenn.

betty said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment :) This movie sounds very interesting; one I'll have to catch next holiday season. Last year I finally saw Its a Wonderful Life from start to finish; a definitely good Christmas movie :)

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

betty

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

HI, Betty. Hope you had great holidays. Yes, I've enjoyed "It's a Wonderful Life," too. Jimmy Stewart was always one of my favorite actors.