Film Research Analysis
The film Joyeux Noel is the true story of the Christmas truce of December 1914 in the trenches of World War 1. Throughout the film, we follow the German, French, and Scottish soldiers as they learn to set aside their differences, put themselves in each others shoes, and manage to have a cease fire on Christmas. The soldiers learn to understand each other and are able to pull some humanity out of the horrors of the war.
There are many external conflicts throughout the story. Each of the main characters have their own conflicts that help to shape the story. The first one would be the draft. Two of the characters affected by the draft were Anna Sorensen who was living a carefree life singing opera with her boyfriend Nikolaus Sprink when it was announced that Germany had declared war and Nikolaus was being drafted. Young brothers Jonathan and William are told that they have both been drafted into the war as well. Although the two boys are excited about it at first, they soon get a rude awakening when William is shot and killed in the line of fire. The priest Palmer is chastised by his sanctimonious bishop for his desires to stay in the war environment with the soldiers instead of going back home to be with his church.
There are also a lot of internal conflicts that shape the story. Jonathan refuses to take part in the truce or the cease fire due to the bitter feelings that he had towards the other side due to the death of his brother. He refuses any kindness that the other side offers and decides that he would rather lay out in the snow with the corpse of his brother than take part in the celebrations. The two sides throughout the film are met with the conflict of obligation and duty versus humanity and emotion. It is their duty to fight and be at war with the opposing side; however, after sharing Christmas traditions and getting to know the people on the other side, they find themselves not being able to take the orders to kill as they now see these people as friends. Nikolaus is faced with the conflict of wanting to be with his lover, Anna Sorensen, but also not wanting to leave his troops on the front lines. We see another internal conflict with Jonathan as he writes letters to his mother pretending that William was doing all of these brave things in the war so that when he had to tell her that William was dead, she would think that he died a hero.
The production design for the film played a huge role in the overall success of the film. The production designer was Jean-Michel Simonet. Simonet worked alongside the director, Christian Carion, to take the actual events from history, and put them on the screen. Having been from France, one of the ten countries occupied by the Germans, he grew up in the shadow of that war and would always even as a child, come home finding relics or other historical things from the war. It was in 1933, when he found a book called Batailles De...