Joyeux Noel

If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

I have several seasonal “listen and/or watch” traditions.  Among them, A Christmas Carol; I prefer the 1984 version with George C.Scott (it was my first), but I’m also rather fond of Patrick Stewart’s Scrooge (1999).  I usually get a nice balance by listening to Stew

If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

I have several seasonal “listen and/or watch” traditions.  Among them, A Christmas Carol; I prefer the 1984 version with George C.Scott (it was my first), but I’m also rather fond of Patrick Stewart’s Scrooge (1999).  I usually get a nice balance by listening to Stewart read the book.  I listen to and watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas; I’ve even been known to host a party centered around childhood animated favorites.  David Sedaris’ Holiday on Ice rounds off any edginess I sometimes acquire from an overly committed calendar.

Joyeux Noel

Sometimes we let the Light of the season set us free…sometimes.

A few years ago, I added a new feature:  Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas), the 2005 Academy nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.

The film is “based on fact,” but not an historical account.  It is set in December 1914 on the Western Front of WW I.  There are numerous accounts of “non-official” truces being declared between opponents on Christmas Eve and Day that terrible holy season; the director weaves together truth and fiction to create a morality and cautionary tale through the lenses of the French, Scottish and German troops.

The film opens with grammar school lads from all three countries reciting poetry that glorifies their nationality and demonizes their “enemy.”  After a brief “introduction” of a few characters, the scene then moves quickly to the trenches on the front lines and an assault from the French and Scots on the Germans just before Christmas.  All suffer losses, but no strategic gain is made.

On Christmas Eve, angels (perhaps) begin to sing; the Scots, accompanied by bagpipes, begin festive songs.  The Germans follow from their camp.  Soon, but slowly and cautiously, all three are coaxed into “no man’s land” between their entrenchments.  They share chocolate, champagne and stories of home.  The Scottish priest says a brief mass in Latin, the common liturgical language of the time; they worship together.  On Christmas Day, they continue the truce, share coffee and play football; they “bury the dead on the day Christ was born.”

What, then, to do the following day?  They shelter each other in their opposing trenches as their troops hail long-range artillery.

If it all sounds too pollyanna, no worries, they are found out and all are punished.  In a war that was mostly fought to protect empires, friendships shan’t get in the way.

I also enjoy listen to the soundtrack; with or without the cinematography, it is evocative.  One of the signature musical themes is variations on “I’m Dreaming of Home.”  Too often that dream turns to a nightmare.

The film is a favorite of mine, anytime, but especially at Christmas.  It holds the Light of the season against the shadows that seem recalcitrant against the yearnings of all of us.  “All are punished,” as Shakespeare wrote, when we hold our feuds and refuse our hopes.  But there were pockets of a liberating power on Christmas Eve along the Western Front in 1914; they did it.  They heard the angels sing, knew the timid jubilation of shepherds, and participated in the power of Joyeux Noel.

 

 

Read more http://whereheartandmindmeet.ccuccatl.com/2012/12/19/joyeux-noel/

Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now, but you can send us an email and we'll be in touch soon.

Not readable? Change text.