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Merry Christmas (Joyeux Noel) - Preview

Merry Christmas

Preview by Jack Foley

DO YOU remember Paul McCartney’s video to his No.1 hit single, Pipes of Peace?

Well that tale of World War One troops calling a truce and playing football between the trenches on Christmas Day has now been turned into a film called Merry Christmas (Joyeux Noel), starring the likes of Diane Kruger (Troy), Daniel Bruhl (The Edukators) and Gary Lewis (Goal!).

Directed by Christian Carion, the film follows the fortunes of the Scottish, French and German troops who decided to put their differences aside in the name of peace for one day, and the repurcussions that followed their actions.

It is a sensitive and supremely well-acted look at a different side to war that serves as a must-see alternative to the saccharine-heavy family epics that Hollywood traditionally serves up this time of year.

The film has been chosen as the official French entry for next year’s Best Foreign Language film Oscar and played to widespread acclaim at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

The incident in question occurred on Christmas Eve 1914, when officers and soldiers who slaughtered each other on a daily basis put down their weapons to share wine and food, exchange photographs and memories, and play a game of soccer in the snow.

The episode was briefly depicted in Richard Attenborough’s 1969 epic Oh What a Lovely War!, as well as Paul McCartney’s Pipes of Peace video, yet Carion’s film fleshes it out to absorbing effect.

As the Hollywood Reporter noted when it saw the film at Cannes: “With a cast of Scottish, German and French actors all speaking their own language, writer-director Christian Carion has fashioned a deeply moving and uplifting piece that should find appreciative audiences everywhere.

“That is not to say the film is overly sentimental, only that when war-torn men facing the darkest hell imaginable join to shake hands and smile and sing to the plangent accompaniment of bagpipes, only the sternest eye will remain dry.”

The film opens in UK cinemas on December 16 and is one of the must-see films of the festive season.