Movie Review: “Joyeux Noel”

The Movie begins with eloquent flare as three children stand at the front of three different classrooms and recite oaths of war. Each child does so in his native language (German, French and English) and each child depicts their enemy as an aggressor that justifies their declaration of war. With the belief that God is on their side, each child declares emphatically that it is the responsibility of their great country to eradicate their enemy from the face of the earth. The following scenes depict the beginning of World War One in a perfunctory manner. The film shows young men in their different European countries and shows only the moment that war is declared, leaving out all relevant scenes that could have explicated upon the plot. The bulk of the film is about a frontline trench at which Scottish, German, and French divisions are poised before a brutal assault. The allied lieutenants lead their men in to a frontal assault on the Germans. The cinematography of the attack was very poor. There were random explosions and split second scenes that did not describe what was transpiring on the battlefield. In the assault, one of the Scottish men was shot and his brother went to him in a touching moment and kissed him before he abandoned him to his death. This death was marked by irony, since it had been the dead older brother who had been excited and jubilant to go to war. The death of him so early in the movie showed the deep tragedy of war and the death of youthful euphemism, but it was premature. There should have been more character development before the death of the Scotsman, since his death played such a crucial development in the role of other characters in the film. After a brief and flighty interpretation of the horrors of war, the bulk of the movie then explored a more humane side of warfare. On Christmas eve the front line called a cease fire after a Prussian soldier sang in a deep tenor voice different carols. Although the message was refreshing, the execution of it was hard to believe. The singer’s voice was not in sync with the movement of his mouth, and the way that he carried a Christmas tree across the battlefield with outstretched arms appeared melodramatic and corny. The theologians in the film waged a war of sorts between themselves. There was a divide between the old priests in the back lines and the young priests at the front. The old read passages from the Book of John and claimed that it was the desire of the Lord for all Germans to be vanquished from the earth. The younger priest claimed that it had been the desire of the Lord for him to give mass before Prussian and German men on Christmas Eve and that war was an ungodly act. The young man relinquished his priesthood after he was chastised for his actions, and threatened by a higher priest that he was no longer fit to stand with the men of the cloth. In the end of the film the different battalions were split up and moved from their location on the front. Their superiors threatened charges of treason, and the men left melancholy for new trenches with a deeply sensitive interpretation of war prevailing through the melody of a song that they hummed as a train carried them to battle.