This year – 2014 – marks the centenary of the outbreak of WWI; while, this month of December, is actually the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce of 1914¹. It was a special and poignant time, because the Christmas Truce was the one time in the whole war when soldiers all laid down their weapons, gathered together on No Man’s Land, and actually got to know each other.
Sainsbury’s, a popular Christmas supermarket here in England, have made a Christmas advert set in the times of the Truce; which is a lovely advert, but has received much criticism for being one so. However, I am glad they highlighted it, because the start of the war is remembered. But remembers those French, Scottish, and Germans, who actually halted the war for two days to keep Christmas as it should be?
One of my favourite Christmas movies is actually Joyeux Nöel (2005), which is all about the Truce. I don’t know if it is true, but according to the movie, it was the German opera singing solider, who actually started the whole thing. He sung Stille Nacht (the original Silent Night in German) to his troops, which prompted the Scottish to pick up their bagpipes, and join in to the tune. Subsequently, they started playing the tune of Oh, Come All Ye Faithful, to which he sung the original Latin lyrics of Adeste Fideles.
That is my favourite moment in the whole film…
It’s a very beautiful scene. Each side is united with music, all yearning to be home for Christmas. I think the choice of Latin is very clever, as it serves two purposes. He’s singing in the common language of Latin, which the educated would have known of then; and he demonstrates his status as an opera singer for having knowledge of the words. The singing here is beautiful, and when the bagpipes chimes in with the singing, I get moved to tears. Sadly, it’s not actually the actor singing himself, as his voice is overdubbed most likely by a singing professional, but he does excellent diaphragmic acting!
If you get the chance, do watch Joyeux Nöel. You’ll learn of the Christmas Truce of 1914, listen to some beautiful singing, and see how the three languages of German, English and French interact with each other over the subject of Christmas.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year of 2015.
¹ Unknown, Christmas Truce, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_truce