It’s pretty easy to fall into a movie rut at this time of year. Most of the classics become a bit trite after a couple dozen viewings. I mean, Miracle on 32nd Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Story are all really great movies, but one can see enough of them. That is why, for the last few years, I’ve favored such holiday fare as The Bishop’s Wife, The Shop Around the Corner, and Die Hard (hey, there’s a Christmas tree RIGHT THERE!).
I have a new holiday favorite now, though.
Last night was the final session of the Hitchcock/Kubrick class I’ve been taking. We were scheduled to finish with Eyes Wide Shut, but since we won’t be meeting to discuss it (and because the professor was a little nervous about showing it in class) we decided to watch something else, and the professor felt very strongly about 2005’s Joyeux Noel. I am very happy with that decision.
Simply put, this was a magnificent film. I don’t want to spoil anything so I will be vague. The film takes place in the trenches during WWI. There are three groups in these trenches, the Germans, the French, and the Scots (it takes place before the U.S. joined in the fun). On Christmas Eve, the fighting has calmed and the soldiers can hear each other meagerly celebrating, and the film involves what happens as a result.
Since there are three nationalities involved, there are three languages, and much of the film is subtitled. I know that a lot of people think subtitles are annoying (and they can be) but I think that voices and lips that don’t match are worse. What struck me, though, is how different this film was from most Christmas fare. No cutesy Santa/Elf/Reindeer stuff. However, the war part of the movie is nothing like Platoon either. This is a film about real characters in a real situation, and how Christmas effects them all. Oh, and Paula- it has a kitty!
When it was finished, I knew I had just watched a genuine piece of art, a film that actually says something about people, Christmas, and war. If you’d like to see something truly meaningful and uplifting, watch this film.
I’ll bet you thank me after you do.