Saturday, December 10, 2005

Joyeux Noël

Can I ask you a favour, please?

Next Christmas, don't watch The Sounds of Music. Or Night Before Christmas, or any other traditional film you watch on that day. Instead, get a copy of Merry Christmas.

The film is based on true events, the Christmas ceasefire of 1914, when WWI soldiers on both sides of the front line left their trenches to bury their dead and play football in No Man's Land. It ends with a disclaimer that any similarity to real persons is purely coincidential - but I have to say, such similarity is deeply flattering. This is a film that shows with profound sincerity the nature of human spirit, thrown into a place of concentrated despair unlike what was ever seen before (and quite possibly, since) - scared, broken, trampled upon, and yet still capable of sensing joy at the sound of bagpipes in the night, and a beautiful voice singing Silent Night in the language of your enemy. The spirit that experiences infinite truth, and through recognizing it, feels no shame for any act that men who have not climbed the wall of a trench would call treason.

On Christmas Eve, 1914, several hundred Germans, Frenchmen and Brits decided that the bloodiest conflict in human history would just have to wait. On this night, The Last War had no power over a small Belgian field.

As the credits rolled, half a thousand people simply sat there, not daring to break the magic of the movie. As the lights came up, they exploded in applause. Not formal theater applause, a reluctantly given tip for the time and effort of humans; there were no creators at the showing. Instead this was applause that every person in that room had no choice but to give.

Watch this film.

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