A bona-fide hit of the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, Joyeux Noel is a warming story about courage and dignity that touched three nations that went to war in 1914. On Christmas Eve in Northern France, officers and soldiers from Scotland, Germany and France, who fought each other from trenches barely 100 meters apart on a daily basis, put down their weapons and called a truce. It was an extraordinary act of human generosity and humility - and a true story. The story follows a Scottish Anglican priest, Palmer (Gary Lewis) who volunteered to follow his young church aides; a prestigious Berlin Opera singer Nikolaus Sprink (Benno Furmann) now fighting for his country, and the French Lieutenant Audebert (Guillaume Canet), who has had to leave his pregnant wife behind. All of them have family ties, home-front responsibilities or loved ones who have been abandoned as they heed the call to arms. Political leaders had promised the troops that the war would be resolved by Christmas. It is now December, the chill of winter has set in and everyone can sense this will be a long conflict. When Christmas Eve comes, Sprink's lover Anna (Diane Kruger) conspires to arrange a recital for Prussian noblemen near the front line so they can be together. He takes her back to the trenches to sing for his comrades, and the Scots strike up the bagpipes as an accompaniment. Sprink places a Christmas tree atop the trench and climbs up himself, risking potential gunfire. No one fires, and soon sworn enemies have strayed into No Man's Land, a truce is arranged and for a brief time the Germans, Scots and French set aside thoughts of war to spend Christmas together sharing wine and food, playing football, exchanging photos and memories and taking time to bury the dead. These men and their peers easily find a common ground that is dangerously subversive to their superiors. Where does the holiday spirit end and high treason begin? Anchored by an excellent international cast, this profoundly emotive yet inspiring film is marbled with bittersweet humour, bold gestures and remarkable kindness. With a deep sense of compassion in its celebration of the way a shared humanity transcended the madness of war, Joyeux No?l is an elegant, European classic.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Classification: M (Moderate Violence, War Themes, Moderate Sex Scene)
Language: English , French , German
Number of Discs: 1
Region: 4 (Australia & New Zealand)
Released: 26th November 2010
Running Time: 116 mins