Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Joyeux Noel (2005)****

Peace briefly erupts in the trenches of World War One, and the French and German commanders, safe at the back lines, are livid. This film, based on the famous Christmas Truce folk tale but greatly augmented, asks a number of important questions.

When the warring factions decide to cease fire and emerge from their trenches, the Great War becomes in essence the Great Cocktail Party, as Germans, French and Scots share food, drink and small talk. The soldiers get to know their enemies as people, and find that they have a large amount in common.

You can see on the men's worn and exhausted faces the unasked question, "Why are we fighting?", because it is clear that other than their tattered uniforms, there is little difference between them. Yet, a few hours ago, the sides were exchanging a hellfire of bullets and artillery shells.

The officers that called the truce are later severely reprimanded by their generals and face charges of conspiracy, yet ironically, it is those commanders who must conspire with their enemy counterparts in order to get the fighting underway again.

The film doesn't quite achieve the greatness of its aspirations - it drags in places and the resolutions are a bit pat- but still this is an enjoyable and worthwhile entertainment. And it may leave you wondering: What if they gave a war and no one came?

No comments:

Elevator to the Gallows Turns 60

Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows is a stylish and seductive thriller about a murder plot gone terribly wrong. But unlike most th...