Merry Christmas (movie, 2005)

Merry Christmas is a dramatic film French directed by Christian Carion , released in 2005 .


In the summer of 1914 , the First World War broke out, dragging millions of people into its whirlwind. Nikolaus Sprink has to give up a prestigious tenor career at the Berlin Operaand, moreover, can no longer see or associate with Anna Sörensen, his partner and companion.

To follow the young Jonathan who was involved, and who helped him a lot in his church, Pastor Palmer left Scotland and found himself stretcher on the same front of northern France . As for the French lieutenant Audebert, he had to leave his wife pregnant and bedridden to fight the enemy; since his departure, the Germans occupy the small northern town where the young woman is supposed to have already given birth, unless the worst has already happened! To know nothing is a suffering that torments every night of Lieutenant Audebert.

As time passes, the snow settles. Christmas arrives with its procession of gifts from families and staffs. But the surprise does not come from the numerous and generous parcels arriving in the French, German or Scottish trenches. Because it is the unthinkable that happens: for a few moments, we will put the rifle to go, a candle in his hand, see the one opposite, yet described for ages, at school as well as at the barracks, like a bloodthirsty monster, and, with the usual music of Christmas carols, discover a human in him, shake his hand, exchange cigarettes and chocolate with him, and wish him a “Merry Christmas”, ” Frohe Weihnachten »,« Merry Christmas “. It is then that there is a temporary truce, “to the chagrin of their staffs ” 1 , between the three camps, who will celebrate Christmas together. Then, taken in attachment, the leaders of these three camps will mutually save their enemies. A real history forgotten history itself that would have occurred in Frelinghien , in northern France, near Lille.

Technical sheet

  • Title: Merry Christmas
  • Director: Christian Carion
  • Scenario: Christian Carion
  • Music: Philippe Rombi
  • Photography: Walther van den Ende
  • Editing: Andrea Sedláčková
  • Sets: Jean-Michel Simonet
  • Costumes: Alison Forbes-Meyler
  • Production: Christophe Rossignon and Christopher Borgmann
  • Production company: Nord-Ouest Production (France), Senator Film Produktion (Germany), The Bureau (United Kingdom), Artemis Productions (Belgium), Media Pro Pictures (Romania)
  • Budget: € 18.15 million
  • Country of origin: France , Germany , United Kingdom , Belgium , Romania
  • Language: French , English , German
  • Format: Color – 2.35: 1 – Dolby Digital – 35 mm
  • Genre: Drama , history , war
  • Duration: 116 minutes
  • Release dates:
    •  France :( Cannes Festival 2005 );
    •  Belgium :


  • Diane Kruger : Anna Sørensen, a Danish soprano determined to save the one she loves from the war
  • Benno Fürmann (VF: Dimitri Rataud ) : Nikolaus Sprink, tenor at the Berlin opera turned soldier in the German army
  • Guillaume Canet : Lieutenant Audebert, who hides his grief at leaving his pregnant wife and his fear in front of his men
  • Gary Lewis : Anglican pastor Palmer, Scottish, became a stretcher
  • Daniel Brühl : Horstmayer, a German Jewish lieutenant
  • Dany Boon : Ponchel, northern barber and Audebert’s aide-de-camp
  • Lucas Belvaux : Gueusselin, French soldier “go-without-fear”
  • Bernard Le Coq : General Audebert, father of the lieutenant
  • Alex Ferns : Scottish Lieutenant Gordon, Head of the Section
  • Steven Robertson : Jonathan, a young Scottish soldier killed by his brother’s hate
  • Christopher Fulford : The Scottish Major
  • Michel Serrault : the chatelain
  • Suzanne Flon : the chatelaine
  • Robin Laing : William
  • Joachim Bissmeier : Zimmermann
  • Thomas Schmauser : the Kronprinz
  • Frank Witter : Jörg, a German soldier
  • Ian Richardson (VF: Gilbert Beugniot ) : The Scottish Bishop
  • Christian Carion : a nurse
  • Tom Duncan : a Scottish soldier
  • Matthias Herrmann : a German soldier
  • Marc Robert : Guimond
  • Christophe Rossignon : a lieutenant (role cut in editing)
  • Natalie Dessay : Anna’s voice (singing)
  • Rolando Villazon : the voice of Nikolaus (vocals)
Source : on the site of AlterEgo ( dubbing company 2 )


Unless otherwise indicated or supplemented, the information mentioned in this section comes from the credits of the audiovisual work presented here .

  • Ave Maria .
  • Auld Lang Syne .
  • I’m dreaming of home .
  • Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht by Franz Xaver Gruber of.
  • Bist du bei mir by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel of.
  • The Braes of Killiecrankie  (en) .
  • Piobaireachd Dhòmhnaill Dhuibh .
  • Adeste fideles by John Francis Wade .


  • The film was presented in official selection out of competition during the Cannes 2005 festival .
  • César nomination for Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Music, Best Supporting Actor ( Dany Boon ), Best Set and Best Costume in 2006.
  • Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2006 BAFTA Awards .
  • Appointment to the Golden Globe for best foreign film in 2006.
  • Nomination for the Oscar for best foreign film in 2006.

Around the film

The exposure portrait of the situation of the two lines is clear: three countries are in presence, two are allies (France and the United Kingdom by the expeditionary force, here Scots), but the absence of interallied command is shown directly: the protagonists have no way of knowing each other, each country attacks independently, the fight does not exist and the only report left is that of death by killing.

  • The film brings together several episodes of fraternization , which took place in different parts of the front at Christmas 1914, to reinforce its purpose. However, all are attested by different testimonies and historical evidence, with the exception of the presence of the singer. The fraternisations, the sending of fir trees in the German trenches, the football game , the exchange of foodstuffs, songs (including that interpreted by a German tenor recognized by a Scottish soldier), the Christmas Mass common in the no man’s land , the truce to raise the bodies, the group photo, and the passage from one trench to another to protect themselves from the artillery bombardments have therefore existed.
Main articles: Christmas truce and live and let live .
  • However, these fraternizations are not a revolt against the hierarchy, nor against the absurdity of the war. They are more closer to fraternization between British troops and French troops during the Spanish campaign under Napoleon st , a century ago, as of 1917 riots ; most of the soldiers thought they would agree only a truce at a privileged moment (the Christmas party) before resuming the fight, and questioned neither their duty nor the validity of this war which was beginning. The reconstruction is also very precise: the French soldiers still wear the uniform madder ( blue horizon uniform arrives later, with theAdrian helmet ).
  • The theme of the truce on the Franco-German front is also proposed as an illustration of the prisoner’s dilemma by Robert Axelrod in the chapter “Living and Letting Live” from his book Donnant-donner 3 . This approach provides an explanation different from that discussed in the film and justifies “rationally” with the help of game theory and computer simulations this type of truce. The author explains the reprisals against the mutinies observed in Verdun in 1917 . The film, however, simply relates one event among others without being interested in the overall dynamics of truces observed during trench warfare. of the First World War and suggests that the truce intervenes spontaneously without soldiers thinking about the past or the future, nor anticipating the reactions of enemy forces.
  • The film intelligently treats each of the parties and shows through the images the curious truce that may have taken place between men whose whole environment was preparing to kill each other; humanity in each of them is the strongest, if only the space of this festival, known regardless of the country. Symbol of the advent of a war of unparalleled scale and horror, the recovery of embarrassed authorities in the face of the phenomenon also announces that now the practice of war will become a total war , the industrial twilight of Europe.
  • The initial operational release in France ( November 9, 2005 ) is the week of November 11 , the anniversary of the First World War armistice .
  • The film’s argument comes from a book that Christian Carion read in 1992: Battles of Flanders and Artois 1914-1918 by the historian Yves Buffetaut. He is touched by a passage ( the incredible Christmas of 1914 ) that reports fraternizations between enemy lines. The director then contacts the historian who gives him access to an important documentation, completed by a background work on the archives of the German army of the First World War, within the walls of the Contemporary International Documentation Library at Nanterre, before to start shooting 4 .
  • Following a series of disagreements, the French army refused to lend its land to recount this taboo passage in its history. If several scenes were shot in the north, most of the movie was filmed in Romania in MediaPro Studiosand Scotland . According to Christian Carion, to the question Why refuse to collaborate for a film involving soldiers who fraternized with the enemy? , a general of the French army would have responded the army is immutable. Since this failed shoot, the French army has a structure to promote the shooting of films on French military lands. ref.  desired]
  • These same events were freely staged as part of the video of Paul McCartney’s song Pipes of Peace in 1983 . The latter interprets the dual role of an English soldier and a German soldier, who after the truce abruptly interrupted, return to their lines with the picture of the bride of the other.
  • Each camp speaks in its language. Thus, in the French version, the French speak French , the Scots speak English (subtitles in French) and the Germans speak German (French subtitles).

Notes and references

  1. ↑ ” Synopsis ”  [ archive ] , on Première (accessed July 6, 2013 ) .
  2. ↑ “Sheet dubbing film”  [ archive ] on , accessed May 25, 2013
  3. ↑ Axelrod, Robert. (2006). The Evolution of Cooperation Revised edition Perseus Books Group, ( ISBN  0465005640 ) The excerpts from the chapter The Live-and-Let-Live System in Trench Warfare in World War I  [ archive ]
  4. ↑ Christian Carion, ” These trenches of fraternity ”  [ archive ] , on ,

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