Joyeux NoŽl (Merry Christmas) Reviews
Highly recommended as a war or Christmas film.
Movieguide said this, "the Catholic bishop ... is portrayed as a venal hypocrite. In one follow-up scene, he even gives a short mass before some new Scottish recruits and he tells the recruits that all the Germans are totally evil and that Jesus Christ Himself would want them to kill as many Germans as they can. Of course, this blasphemy is rejected by the movie and by the Scottish priest, who gives up his priestly Catholic office.
Thus, although this is a very pro-Christian movie about Christmas, the filmmakers may be a bit more anti-clerical and antinomian (lawless) than they needed to be. Of course, there's bound to be some wacky leftists, atheists or liberals who will use these scenes, and the rest of the movie, to make fallacious arguments against all organized religion and against all wars."
Christian Carion, the director of the film, confessed that he lifted this speech from one gave a year later that had nothing to do with the Christmas truce but which had everything to do with the Armenian genocide that had just taken place. You can tell this by the choice of the word "crusade" used by the bishop. He left out the most important parts of the speech which referred to the crucifixion which the Islamic Ottomans inflicted upon the Armenian Christians.
This was not a Roman Catholic Bishop but an Anglican one and as such was a call on his civil government to act as Defender of the Faith and execute the perpetrators of these great crimes. This was well and proper because:
1. It is the Churches job to speak to the Civil authority reminding them of their duties under God which are to punish the evil doer according to Romans 13.
2. Because the Church of England as a State Church, and as such it is exercising its proper role in the government of the United Kingdom.
Carion is either ignorant of these facts and/or he wants to take things out of context to make a point that should never have been made and which ruined a perfectly good movie in the end.
But other than that one flaw, it is an excellent movie. WW 1 was tragic. But this was a bright spot. All the major countries share the blame and each had their own scores to settle and jingoism to fulfill. The United States should not have been involved.
As an example of how our era responds: I explained to the woman at the library as I checked out the video a little about what the movie was about. Her response: "Men!" This is the mindless feminism that has taken hold of our era just like the mindless jingoism took hold of them.
Final note: The Scots haven't been Roman Catholic in centuries. So, I was surprised that it was a Scottish Roman Catholic Priest that gave the sermon and a Roman Catholic Bishop that gave the blasphemous speech. Perhaps there were some Roman Catholics still in Scotland or was this Carion manufactured too?
The film opens with three school children, one from France, Britain and Germany, each relaying a patriotic speech to the camera, each one taught to belittle their enemy nation. This opening alone garnered my full attention, secondly the fact that director Christian Carion chose to allow each nation to converse in their own language (English, French and German) was a fantastic idea and one that we see so little in cinema, not just modern, but the classics too. It's fantastic to see a director respecting each country presented by allowing them to represent their nation through their own language, thus forming a sort of barrier between the group of soldiers upon their truce, that acts as a fun challenge of deciphering. As much as I respect American cinema, this is something many US filmmakers should look at pursuing rather than leaving every foreign national speaking with a strong American accent.
Carion further displays Joyeux NoŽl as an anti-war film, which are my all-time favourite in the war genre, something that displays the horrors and sorrow behind war rather than glorifying it and shining a lot on over patriotic soldiers who win the war to an overzealous musical score. This gives the film a very sympathetic view towards both the Allied and Central powers, but more than anything it promotes the themes of peace at Christmas. This is a powerful movie to definitely watch.
Joyeux Noel has become one of our Christmas favourites.
This is a warm, beautiful and telling story of the horror and absurdity of war. The soldiers who fight it and die and suffer in it and the out of touch leaders who prosecute it but remain safe and far removed from the reality of it. This is a touching story made all the better because it is based on actual events on Christmas Eve, 1914.