Joyeux Noel
Okay, who put the candles in my Christmas tree?

Theatrical Release Date: 11/09/2005 (France), 03/03/2006 (USA)
Director: Christian Carion
Cast: Bruno Fürmann, Daniel Brühl, Guillaume Canet

It’s appropriate that a man names Christian makes a film about what happened on Christmas Eve on the front lines of WWI.

“Joyeux Noël” is a dramatized tale of what actually happened between German, French and Scottish soldiers one fateful night in 1914.

If you know your history, WWI was one of the most grueling and brutal wars ever. Trench warfare subjected men to constant shelling and poisonous gas attacks, all just tens of yards apart (or meters for the rest of the world).

While the particulars may not be true, it is documented fact that on this particular occasion, some of the front lines called a truce for the night. That kindness in the midst of vicious carnage provides an interesting viewpoint, which Carion expressed well in the film.

The production design is top notch and the action is well executed. I also very much enjoyed the musical touch to the film, as the beautiful Diane Kruger is brought to the German lines on Christmas Eve to sing for the troops. It was a bit obvious that she and Bruno Fürmann had voice doubles for their singing but I suppose that’s to be expected.

The performances are excellent and they did a wonderful job at presenting the inner conflict they must have felt at not only ceasing the hostilities for one night but moreso at having to resume the fighting afterwards.

However, I’m not quite on the same boat as most critics who hailed this as a landmark film. In trying to encompass three different sides’ perspectives, the film feels much longer than I would have wished.

Put simply, it moved slow and I just never warmed up to any of the story lines or its characters. While I can feel sympathy for the plight of the soldiers, their fates failed to truly interest me.

Still, good WWI films are in short order as WWII holds so much more interest to the movie-making regime. That alone is reason enough to give this a shot when you’re in the mood for a military film.

I’m giving “Joyeux Noël” a 3 out of 5. It does everything well but I was never sucked into the events like it was intended. Though I do know that if I ever had to fight in a war, momentary truces and Diane Kruger singing aside, I’m not choosing WWI as a conflict I want anything to do with. It truly was a low point for humanity … and I’m already a poor excuse for a man as it is.