Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas)


Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas) (2006)


Critic Consensus: The poignant humanity on display in Joyeux Noel makes its sentimentality forgivable.


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Movie Info

The year is 1914, and as World War I continues to rage across the European countryside, four individuals stuck on the front lines find themselves faced with the unthinkable in director Christian Carion's Academy Award-nominated account of the true-life wartime event that would offer hope for peace in mankind's darkest hour. When the war machines began rolling in the summer of 1914, the devastation that it waged upon German, British, and French troops was palpable. As the winter winds began to blow and the soldiers sat huddled in their trenches awaiting the generous Christmas care packages sent by the families, the sounds of warfare took a momentary backseat to the yearning for brotherhood among all of mankind. It is here that the fate of a French lieutenant, a Scottish priest, a German tenor, and a Danish soprano's lives were about to be changed forever. On Christmas Eve of that year, the lonely souls of the front lines abandoned their arms to reach out to their enemies on the battlefield and greet them with not anger or hostility, but with the simple, kindly gesture of a much needed cigarette or a treasured piece of chocolate, and to put their differences aside long enough to wish their brothers a sincere "Merry Christmas!" ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas)

All Critics (110) | Top Critics (34)

Unfolding slowly, then building in momentum like the hymns themselves, this entire sequence is tremendously affecting.

Dec 14, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

You can't watch this film without thinking about modern wars and about how much easier it is to demonize a foe when language and customs are more at odds.

Dec 14, 2014 | Full Review…
Top Critic

For all their friendship and yuletide charity, the men must return to battle, and the miracle of Christmas does little to alter the course of war. By the end of it, they must decide if they've witnessed their own grand illusion.

Dec 14, 2014 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Some might castigate its unabashed sentimentality, but I found myself moved, especially when I recalled that this was supposedly the war to end all wars.

Nov 27, 2007 | Full Review…

It's a respectful, sobering tribute to the flickering of humanitarian spirit amid the darkest days of conflict and, as such, surely a Christmas film for the ages.

Aug 3, 2006 | Full Review…

Well-photographed and acted, Joyeux Noël suffers most from the inevitable comparison with its betters, such films as Paths of Glory or All Quiet on the Western Front.

Jun 22, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/5

Audience Reviews for Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas)


A bit heavy handed, and it sets the table for far too long, but it's a refreshing war film in that it's not really about war: little death, no more violence than necessary and virtually no blood or gore. It's a story about people rising above their circumstances, and it's worth watching solely for the tension created as the ceasefire's being brokered. A slow but important film full of beautiful moments.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer


An incredibly thought provoking depiction of the WW1 Christmas ceasefire between the Germans, French and the Scottish. The uniting of each of the countries is especially moving and we get to see each solider as an ordinary human being, without the trails and tribulations of war on their mind. Interestingly, the meeting of German and French soldiers on some occasions is at times funny to watch, as both try to understand one another. One of the highlights of the film is the brilliant soundtrack. We see Opera singer Sprink sing to all soldiers in quite a poignant moment, which leaves all 3 sets of soldiers incredibly touched. What is so great about that, is that this relates to all occasions of war and that's why it feels more real that we are witnessing.The film has all the best European actors from; Daniel Bruhl, Diane Kruger, to Guillaume Canet to Gary Lewis. This just goes to show just how brilliant European filming really can be. This may very well be one of my top 5 favourite war films. Highly recommended.

Sarah Gaish
Sarah Gaish

Super Reviewer


Inspired by true events during WWI. ......Touching and poignant, this is a powerfully good Christmas movie. Well acted, well directed, well filmed. You see and feel the difficulty of war, the suffering of the men, the bitter cold of a Belgian winter, and the redemptive power of Christmas even through the darkest of times and events. We also get a good sense of the hypocrisy of the various leaders as they frantically thrash about trying to contain the news of a small outbreak of peace on the Belgian front. Highly recommended.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


This is the true, although probably adjusted, story of a ceasefire near the French-German border in 1914, where soldiers of three nations stopped shooting to celebrate Christmas together. Being entirely neutral, the movie equally shares the three point of views from German, French and Scottish characters, giving short glimpses at the terror of war in the beginning, but then concentrating on this incredible story of fragile friendship and peace amidst the chaos. The first steps of trust and agreement not to attack each other are very exciting and touching to witness. Thankfully the movie spares us most of the surely ugly aftermaths or an unnecessarily violent ending, which probably would have ruined the message of people searching for a way to get along even in the most unlikely situations. The fact that the commands of all three nations kept these happenings a secret for many years says enough, though. Good cinematography, great acting and a nice soundtrack together with a message of humanity make this one of the better Christmas movies, though.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

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