31 Days of Christmas Movies Marathon: Day 8 – Joyeux Noël

Welcome to my 31 Days of Christmas movie marathon.  This is a feature where I watch a different Christmas movie every day from now until Christmas.  The rules are simple: The movie has to be something I haven’t already seen and I must watch at least one Christmas-themed movie a day from now until December 25th.  They’ll be some bad ones and hopefully a lot of great ones.  Why put myself through this?  Because it’s a good way to catch up on a lot of Christmas movies and a good way to satisfy my OCD.

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… Joyeux Noël

How odd is it that the first Christmas movie on my marathon to bring tears down my cheek contains not one element of the supernatural?

True story.  The year was 1914.  The day was Christmas Eve.  French, Scottish, and German troops ascended from their trenches and met in the center of the battlefield for a day of truce that would continue on into the next day.  To have a moment of peace during a brutally bloody war would no doubt leave the soldiers with a profound sense of humanity.

Christmas films, most of them, will always try and bring out the true spirit of the holiday.  The really good films will successfully convey such themes as good will to all, the value of giving, practicing acts of kindness, and embracing peace.  Applying all of these Christmas themes into a war movie seems like it would be a bit over-the-top and desperate in its reach towards sincerity – it’s not.

There are a few characters from each of the countries that have their own side story, but for the most part those stories take a backseat to the actual event of peace being had.  Being able to contemplate the meaning and weight of this momentous day in history without having to get involved in any of the character’s personal baggage is one of this film’s strongest assets, so too are the acting, directing, and cinematography, all of which make an otherwise good film a great film.

Full disclosure; aside from period piece costume dramas, war films are my least favorite genre.  Most of the time I could care less about those fighting, or they’re way too dramatic in their “war is hell” pathos.  Of course there are exceptions to this with Full Metal Jacket, Black Hawk Down, The Thin Red Line, The Pianist, Apocalypse Now, and Paths of Glory, being the only war films I have ever liked.  Now I can confidently add Joyeux Noël to those masterpieces.

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Categories: Reviews

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