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Director: Christian Carion
Starring: Diane Kruger, Guillaume Canet, Daniel Bruhl, Gary Lewis
Rating: M18 (Scenes of Intimacy)
Year Made: 2005




- Trailer




Languages: French/German/English
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: 4x3 Letterbox
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0
Running Time: 1 hr 56 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Comstar Entertainment




Based on true events, "Merry Christmas" stars Guillaume Canet ("Love Me If You Dare"), Diane Kruger ("Troy"), Daniel Bruhl ("Good Bye Lenin!), Gary Lewis ("Billy Elliot") and Dany Boon, and follows their destiny through Christmas during the First World War when enemies were able to lay aside their differences in honour of the holiday.

Summer of 1914. The war draws millions of men in its wake and tears from their loved ones. Amongst the many called to war are Nikolaus Sprink, exceptional tenor at the Berlin Opera House, Palmer, an Anglican priest and his church aide Jonathan, Lieutenant Audebert and Anna Sorensen, the women Sprink left behind. But she's not the only one. Lieutenant Audebert has left his wife, pregnant and bedridden to fight the enemy. But the Germans occupy the small town of Northern France where the young bride has probably given birth. Christmas arrives, with its snow and multitude of gifts. But the surprise doesn't lie in the many gifts that are stored in the French, Scottish and German trenches. It lies in the hearts of men. Rifles will be left and a candle in hand, the worst enemies will cross over and wish the other "Merry Christmas".


Joyeux Noël is set in the very first World War in 1914, in the dark and skanky trenches where the enemy's just 100 metres away, in trenches of their own. In between, it's no man's land, and often a stalemate as machine gun posts and snipers at each end, are ever ready to cut down any troop advancement. It's foolish to charge, and thus the battle-lines are drawn, with each side waiting for the next move.

But Joyeux Noël isn't an all out war movie. In fact, I would boldly label it as an anti-war, with its themes and reasonings put forth. The question "why are we fighting" is never adequately, nor could be addressed by both sides. With the French and Scots on one end, and the Germans on the other, we see both sides as being where they were, out of circumstances, manipulation, and based on the egos of politicians of the day.

While the bigger picture paints a world and cultures at odds, it's the man on the ground, fighting the war, who actually mattered, not those who are waging the war in their own comfort zones back home. As they say, it's a world without strangers, and all men are brothers, a little understanding of one another goes a long way, transcending perceived hatred, and politics. Is there any reason to fight at all, even if it's misguidedly for country? Each man is a brother, a husband, a father, a son, to their own families, and what reason could be more than to send them to die for their country?

Those are some thoughts that will inevitably race through your mind as the movie progresses, until the much touted scenes where all sides stumble upon an uneasy ceasefire truce on Christmas Eve, 1914. 'Tis a season to be jolly, and with the men out there in the fields, the festive season becomes a gel for them to put down their arms, and to celebrate the religious holiday together. As they bond, they find that they have more in common as they demolish prejudices, misconceptions, and truly did what mattered. And it is especially difficult to go back killing one another senselessly, after sessions of bonding which a religious festival like Christmas had offered.

It's a story reportedly based on true events, but was bogged down by a subplot involving Diane Kruger's (Troy) role as an opera singer, and her romance with one of the soldiers. It's a rather weak role, a token female one, and somehow added only fluff to a movie which provokes some thoughts about the pointlessness of war. Other subplots pertaining to the families of each man, are more often glossed over with cursory mentions, but adequately enough to spark thoughts and questions.

There's a scene which stood out with regards to lies told in the name of religion to justify war. It's a small scene, but one which resonates, because it is exactly such teachings, when misconstrued, that seemingly makes killing in the name of religion sound just. How very wrong if religion got mixed up in a totally incorrect manner, to wage war in its name.


Only the trailer is included in this Code 3 DVD.


You can choose if you want to enjoy Joyeux Noël in Dolby Digital 2.0 or 5.1. Only during the war scenes would you be able to enjoy the surround sound artillery bombardments. Other than that, this movie's a "talky" for most parts, which will not put any speakers to test.



Review by Stefan Shih



Alternative Opinion:

The movie review by our columnist

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. Mrs Henderson Presents

. Hidden

. The Descent

. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

. A Season for Love

. Horror Theater Series 2

. Horror Theater Series I

. Capturing the Friedmans

. The Wig

. A Wicked Tale

. As It Is In Heaven

. When I Turned 9



This review is made possible with the kind support from Comstar


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