This touching drama, about a true-life spontaneous Christmas truce unofficially declared by opposing soldiers in World War I, is “deeply moving and uplifting,” writes critic Ray Bennett in The Hollywood Reporter.
“Speaks to universal human emotions that transcend country and culture,” writes Robert W. Butler in The Kansas City (Mo.) Star.
“It is good, especially in these times, to be reminded of the humanity we all share,” writes Jean Lowerison in San Diego Metropolitan magazine.
In the film and in real life, World War I Europe faced unprecedented slaughter, carnage and destruction.
Yet, on Christmas Eve 1914, in a remarkable moment largely forgotten in history, soldiers in a section of the Western Front — a 400-mile stretch weaving through France and Belgium — felt a shift, however fleeting, toward peace and goodwill.
The guns fell silent, without approval of either side’s high command.
French, German and Scottish British soldiers left their cold, muddy trenches and, warily at first, crossed the no man’s land between them to wish each other “Joyeux Noël,” “Frohe Weihnachten” and “Merry Christmas.”
During this extraordinary, short-lived respite from carnage, the combatants exchanged chocolate and champagne, shared photographs of loved ones, sang carols, played soccer and engaged in prayer.
The truce ended Dec. 26 with nearby shelling by German forces from elsewhere. The soldiers realized they must return to battle, but they were changed.
Military authorities from France, Germany and Britain soon found out about the spontaneous cease-fire. They called it “fraternization with the enemy,” an act of treason, with severe consequences.
The 2005 film, in English, French and German with English subtitles, won six critic association and festival awards, including the Audience Choice Award at California’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
It runs 1 hour 56 minutes and is rated PG–13. Its original title is “Joyeux Noël.”
The film’s trailer can be found on YouTube at tinyurl.com/MerryChristmas-MoviesWSpirit.
The screening will be followed by a facilitated discussion. Refreshments will be served.
Attendees over age 12 are asked to contribute $10 a person.
Movies With Spirit screenings comply with all federal, state and local health and safety protocols, including those of the screening venues.
The monthly Movies With Spirit series, organized by Gerry Harrington of Kingston, seeks to stimulate people’s sense of joy and wonder, inspire love and compassion, evoke a deepened understanding of people’s integral connection with others and with life itself, and support individual cultures, faith paths and beliefs while simultaneously transcending them.
The films are screened in diverse places of worship and reverence across Ulster and Dutchess counties at 7 p.m. on the third Saturday of every month. Movies With Spirit has no religious affiliation.