Joyeux Noel

Years ago, I remember watching a French movie about war. In all honesty, that’s about all I remember, except for this one scene in the middle of a snowy field with an officer in blue standing in the middle. The actors spoke in French, and being fluent in French myself, I followed along as best I could. What I didn’t quite catch, I would refer to the english subtitles in order to interpret.

Because I was so focused on understanding what the characters were saying, I missed a lot of what was actually happening in the film. I do remember that it was amazing though.

This week in A.P. World History, we were assigned group projects. My partners and I were assigned a prompt asking us to compare what our textbook told us about WWI to the song “Christmas in the Trenches” by John McCutcheon. As I listened to the song, I suddenly realized that the scene being set by the singer was one somewhat familiar to the movie I had seen years before, Joyeux Noel.

This week, my research has helped me to understand why that movie was so amazing. I had no idea that it was reenacting the Christmas Truce of 1914, where soldiers on a battlefield during WWI called an unofficial truce for the holidays.

At first I wondered why this was so important, until I looked up the lyrics to the song “Christmas in the Trenches”. In one line, the soldier narrating the song said “whose family have I fixed within my sights?”. I realized that the unofficial truce in the winter of 1914 had humanized the soldiers adversaries. Each fighter realized that their opponent had a family to return to, a home to go home to. It changed the aspect of the war considerably, which is why it is so famous.

I plan on watching the movie Joyeux Noel again sometime soon. This time, with a better understanding of what is happening. The events that transpired in 1914 were remarkable, and against all odds. Hopefully this film will convey those feelings and emotions fairly.


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