‘Merry Christmas’- ‘Joyeux Noël’ a cinematic experience about the World War I Christmas truce of December 1914 where enemies share peace of Christmas in the bloody battlefield, will be screened at 3.00 pm on Tuesday December 21 and at 6.30 pm on Wednesday at 6.30pm at the Alliance Francaise de Colombo.
Written and directed by Christian Carion, the film was screened out of competition at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards.
December 24, 1914. Five months into World War I, regiments of French and Scottish troops face off their German opponents in the muddy, snow-covered wastes of No Man’s Land. After some fierce fighting, a strange lull has descended on the trenches.
The Germans have even started to put up Christmas trees. A tenor, Nikolaus Sprink, is called away from his unit to sing before Kaiser Wilhelm and a gathering of German officers at a nearby country house. He is accompanied by his lover, Anna Sörensen. When Nikolaus insists on returning to his comrades in the trenches to sing that night, Anna persuades him to take her with him. After the tenor has sung “Silent Night”, a volley of applause erupts from the French and British trenches. Officers from the three sides meet and agree to a ceasefire for that night.
The men who had only a day before been ordered to kill one another leave their trenches to exchange greetings and modest gifts of chocolate and alcohol. A Scottish priest gives a mass and Anna sings “Ave Maria”. The break in hostilities continues into Christmas Day, when the soldiers agree to bury their dead. Others make use of the unexpected peace to play football or card games. They take cover in each other’s trenches when artillery barrages break out. The next day, it’s business as usual. When the generals hear what has happened, they are outraged. In their eyes, fraternisation equates to treason…