Christmas during Wartime

 

Joyeux Noel 2005

Joyeux Noel captures a rare moment of grace from one of the worst wars in the history of mankind, World War I. On Christmas Eve, 1914, as German, French, and Scottish regiments face each other from their respective trenches, a musical call-and-response turns into an impromptu cease-fire, trading chocolates and champagne, playing soccer, and comparing pictures of their wives. But when Christmas ends, the war returns…Joyeux Noel has been justly accused of sentimentality, but if any subject warrants such an earnest and hopeful treatment, it’s the horrors of trench warfare. The largely unknown cast–the more familiar faces include Diane Kruger (Troy), Daniel Bruhl (Good Bye Lenin!), Benno Furmann (The Princess and the Warrior), and Gary Lewis (Billy Elliot)–deliver low-key but effective performances as the movie dwells on the everyday elements of life in the face of war. Based on a true incident (though considerably fictionalized).

 

A Midnight Clear  1992

Director Keith Gordon based his excellent script for “A Midnight Clear” on the book by William Wharton, who had been seriously wounded in the Battle of the Bulge towards the end of WWII. He wrote of an American Intelligence team which came upon a team of young German soldiers, desperate to surrender to the Americans, in order to survive Germany’s last offensive. He wrote of fear and suspicion, pain and loss, friendship and hope and a snow-ball fight. And of the agreement to save the lives of the Germans, which went horribly wrong. A haunting, disturbing war movie without much war, looking tenderly at those who go to kill and be killed, and gently painting a truth: There are no real victors; all are wounded by war’s inherent, random cruelty.

 

Silent Night 2002

Linda Hamilton, Cassian Bopp, Michael Elkin. On Christmas Eve 1944, three American soldiers and three German soldiers confront the realities of war and discover the true meaning of courage, as well as the true spirit of a blessed night. Based on real events.

 

The Christmas Truce  2002

An American soldier and a Belgian woman fall in love during a brief holiday truce amid the Battle of the Bulge. When fighting resumes, they promise to reunite on the first Christmas after the war ends if they’re both alive.

 

I’ll be seeing you 1945

Oscar(r) winner* Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten top a stellar cast in this tender wartime love story about two troubled strangers who meet by chance and try to crowd a lifetime of love and laughter into eight days. “Studded with brilliant performances” (Variety), I’ll Be Seeing You “manages to ambush your emotions and hasten your heart beats” (Hollywood Citizen-News). After serving half of a prison sentence for accidental manslaughter, Mary Marshall (Rogers) is allowed a holiday furlough to visit her family. Keeping her history a secret, she falls in love with a kindhearted GI (Cotten) who’s struggling to overcome shell shock. Both long for a normal life. But can they have it if he learns the truth about her? *1940: Actress, Kitty Foyle

 

My Christmas Soldier  2008

This is a powerful film, bringing some separate true facts together to make one single story. The film is set during World War ll, just two years into the war. Some German soldiers are shipped by train to Georgia, and at the station families are waiting for their loved ones, American soldiers, to arrive home by train. It is Christmas Eve and the German soldiers are hungry as they wait in the boxcar, and a young boy, Gordy, waiting for his father’s arrival, manages to steal some sandwiches and get some hot coaco to a couple of the soldiers. One of them, named Hans, gives the boy his cross medal as a token of thanks for his kindness. The boy gives the German soldier a toy soldier his father had given him. Hans tells him, “Sometimes even enemies can be friends, huh?” Despite the crankiness of several people who don’t want the soldiers there, when the German soldiers begin singing “Silent Night,” in German, the Americans reply by singing “Silent Night” in English. This miracle of a bridge of sorts between two warring nations is nicely done and touching.

This story is very well written by Mauriel Joslyn, and the film coasts along quickly. The human elements are touching and the director, Owen Smith, managed to convey a lot in a short amount of time as this movie runs only 37 minutes. Every nation should see this film! It is a film of hope, and a perfect Christmas story. –The Dove Foundation