Joyeux Noël is a French film that tells the story of the Christmas Truce during World War I. During the Christmas of 1914, all along the trenches of Europe, soldiers from both sides put down their weapons and enjoyed unofficial, unsanctioned truces between the nations. The soldiers came out of their trenches to offer greetings, exchange gifts, play friendly games of football, and to bury the dead that littered the no man's land between the rival trenches of the opposing armies. It's hard to believe, but it was one Christmas miracle that actually took place, and Joyeux Noël is about as brilliant a retelling of the events as I could ever imagine.
It's a glorified view of the historical events, of course, combining almost all of the tales and anecdotes that spanned the continent into one event on a single battlefield. Also, some of the events that take place almost strain credibility, such as having the tenor's wife come and meet him in the Trenches during the war (played by the very fetching Diane Kruger). But none of that mattered because the story was so heartfelt, the direction was so sure-handed, and the performances by the multi-national cast were so impeccable.
I had honestly never heard of this film before I threw it on my Netflix queue, but it was a real gem that I'm glad I found. I had known of the Christmas Truce story, but mostly from folklore or from that Paul McCartney video for the song Pipes of Peace. This movie put a real face not only to the truce, but to the soldiers who fought in the war that inspired it. This is one of those movies that shows you how horrible man can be to his fellow man, but at the same time how loving and honorable we can be as well. Anyway, I was pretty much in tears through the whole thing (if you can watch that scene where the French solider learns that his wife gave birth to his son and not burst into tears, well, you're a stronger man than me), and I recommend it highly for any fans of history, anti war films, or Christmas movies in general.
Two thumbs way up.