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Joyeux Noel – Beauty CAN Save the World

from the movie "Joyeux Noel"

Joyeux Noel – “Merry Christmas”

Why, might you ask am I writing about Christmas in September? Well it’s not because I am following the marketing tradition of promoting Christmas earlier and earlier each year. I watched this move because it was recommended to me by my musical partner in crime, Howard Meadows. The film seems to have landed in my lap just when it should. This is a ‘must see’ film anytime of the year.

If you wander over to my “About” page, you will see some thoughts about Why I am a musician? Simply put, I am passionate about Beauty. I believe in the power of beauty and as I recently discovered, Dostoevsky said “Beauty will save the world”.

After watching Joyeux Noel, I was left with the profound “knowing” that beauty can indeed save the world – if we let it.

Here is my synopsis of the film. As you read, be aware that the events in this film really did happen. Only a few of the characters in the film were fictionalized. Links for the official movie site and a video clip showing the moment when the beauty of music transforms the situation follow.

Joyeux Noel
France, 2005
Director: Christian Carion
Music: Philippe Rombi

The setting is outside a town in France. It is the day before Christmas Eve in 1914. We see a brutal trench battle during World War I. In one trench, we have the French. In another, the Scotts and in another, the Germans. The trenches are so close to each other that at night after the heat of battle, the three parties can hear each other speaking. The open ground between the trenches is not large and stepping out onto it is sure death. Out of necessity, dead men are left on the field. It is not safe to retrieve them.

Christmas eve arrives and the unexpected happens. The Scotts have been entertaining themselves with singing and bagpipes. Then a German Tenor joins the Germans to entertain them with some music. He sings Silent Night. The Scotts, overhearing, join in with their bagpipes. There is silence. The singer, feeling emboldened and courageous, steps out onto the field and with the invitation from a Scottish bagpiper begins singing Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful). Then the German, French, and Scottish captains walk to the centre of the field and agree on a cease fire for Christmas eve and Christmas Day. All the men leave their trenches and party ensues followed by a Church service in latin lead by the Scottish Pastor.

Together on Christmas Day, the Germans, Scotts and French give their dead a proper burial. The German captain reveals to the French and Scott captains that he knows the Germans are going to air raid the French and Scottish trenches tomorrow. He invites the Scottish and French troops to shelter in the German trenches until after the air raid. And so they do. The French captain then explains that a retaliation air raid is planned and he invites the Germans to shelter in the French trenches. And so they do and many mens lives are saved. What happened here is called fraternization.

What made this miracle of humanity possible? How did the enemies access their humanity and see that they are all the same and not enemies?

It was beauty. The simple beauty of a Christmas carol.

Beauty CAN save the world.

Discover more about this movie at:


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