JOYEAUX NOEL (Merry Christmas)
Joyeaux Noel is actually a 2005 epic war drama film based on the Christmas truce of December 1914, depicted through the eyes of French, Scottish, and German soldiers. It was written and directed by Christian Carion based on actual events.
While the Allies and Germans are engaged in gruesome battle, a cat runs back and forth between the enemy trenches to the soldiers that feed it. The German soldier names the cat Felix while the French one names him Nestor.
When a Christmas Truce is agreed upon, the soldiers all mingle in harmonious camaraderie. A peaceful evening is spent during which the two benefactors of the cat meet. A friendly argument ensues as to the cat’s name.
The soldiers share their rations and intermingle, many reverting to sign language to communicate. They eat, drink make merry and sing songs in their native languages. It becomes a sentimental and memorable Christmas Eve. All is well and at the rising dawn they all consent to continue the truce to allow both sides to bury their dead.
On orders, they go back to their respective trenches and the grueling fighting resumes. The cat with two names continues going back and forth among the trenches. At one point he crosses over to the French lines wearing a new collar with a note attached. It asked “Which regiment are you from?” This was brought to the attention of the French General who had the cat arrested. He decided to follow the letter of the law and actually had the cat shot by a firing squad for espionage.
This is a bitter sweet movie that brings on tears of happiness and sadness. It is definitely a story that needs to be seen to understand that war need not be a necessity if men could always act as was done on that Silent Night. A must movie for the holidays!
Footnote: In reality, the cat was accused of spying, arrested by the French Army and then shot by a firing squad, as an actual traitor would have been. The extras in the movie refused to participate in this scene, so it was amended to have the cat imprisoned instead.
The movie can be seen on the following sites for free: