Joyeux Noel (2005)

Genre(s): Adventure / Drama / History / War
Sony || PG13 - 116 minutes - $26.96 || November 14, 2006
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2006-12-08

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Christian Carion
Writer(s): Christian Carion (written by)
Cast: Diane Kruger, Benno Furmann, Guillaume Canet, Danny Boon, Gary Lewis

Theatrical Release Date: NA

Supplemental Material:
  • Writer/Director Commentary
  • Writer/Director Interview
  • Theatrical Trailers

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), German (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese

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.::THE FILM::.

Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) is a film loosely based on actual events in 1914 during World War I. Writer/Director Christian Carion retells the story of the French, Scottish and German soldiers who decided to have a cease fire on Christmas Eve. We don't get to see too many World War I films made these days. It seems like the focus is always on World War II or the Vietnam War when it comes to making films about war. I guess it may be because World War II had much clearer enemies whereas World War I didn't have Hitler and the Nazi ideology, Mussolini or any of the other well known dictators.

The best war films to me are always the ones that show both sides of the war. Films like The Thin Red Line, Cross of Iron, The Grand Ilusion, A Midnight Clear, Paths of Glory and even recently Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima, which attempts to show World War II from the side of the Japanese versus Flags of Our Fathers, which depicts the American side. In this film, Carion does a great job of showing each person as a human being rather than a "good guy" or "bad guy." There are beautiful scenes in which soldiers exchange gifts from their respective countries and the soldiers hesitate but finally understand that they are in fact all human beings. There is also a scene in which all the soldiers celebrate Mass with one another. The cast does a fantastic job of depicting that emotion. The film has an international cast with actors from Germany, Scotland and France. None of them are particularly well known to American audiences except Diane Kruger, who was in Troy and National Treasure. Nonetheless, they all give impressive and very believable performances.

The film is shot beautifully by Carion and cinematographer Walther van den Ende, who coincidentally shot another anti-war masterpiece, No Man's Land back in 2001. While the film is classified as a "war" film, Carion shows very little of the actual battle and focuses more on the people rather than the battles. As I mentioned, it was nice to see a war film based on World War I events rather than all the World War II films that are cranked out every year. With A Very Long Engagement and Flyboys coming out recently, I hope Hollywood starts to make more World War I films because there are tons of stories that have not been told yet.


As with most foreign films, the extras don't come in vast amounts like in many American films. The DVD does include a commentary by director Christian Carion. The commentary is in English so some of what Carion says may be difficult to understand through his French accent. He discusses everything from the score, multiple locations and multi-lingual cast, to the historical details of the actual events on that day.

The DVD also has an Interview with Director Christian Carion, which runs about 16 minutes. This extra is in French but is obviously subtitled in English. Carion discusses other fraternizations that may have happened during the war as well as what aspects of the film were real and what was fictionalized. I would like to have seen Carion talk more about the actual filming but those interested in that time period will enjoy Carion's knowledge of that era.

Also included on the DVD is a gallery of about 14 trailers. They include trailers of upcoming films like The Pursuit of Happyness and the Chow Yun Fat film Curse of the Golden Flower as well as older films like The Passenger and the animated film The Triplets of Belleville.


Both the video transfer and audio for the film is top notch. The film is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the various costume colors of each solider come off particularly well. The opening shots of the camera gliding through Scotland comes off beautifully as well. The sound design is also done very well. As I mentioned earlier, while the film is a "war" film, there is only one real battle scene. Nonetheless, the sound for that scene is amazing.


While I would have liked more special features, the DVD is still worth owning for the film alone. Carion does a fantastic job of showing each soldier, no matter what side they are on, as a human being and not a target. There aren't too many other war films out there that have scenes in which the soldiers find shelter in enemy trenches. Visually the film is amazing and the performances are all fantastic. Any history buffs who are longing to see a great World War I film should go out and buy this film.