||Set in 1914 amid the muddy trenches and flying shrapnel of World War I, JOYEUX NOEL is a touching tale of an unlikely, if fleeting, reconciliation amid battle. French director Christian Carion begins his movie--which is based on a true event--by highlighting how startlingly close the warring factions are located to one another. Trenches occupied by French and Scottish troops lay a mere hairbreadth away from their German counterparts, to the point where an alarm clock in the French trench can be heard in all three dugouts. Carion adds a generous helping of gallows humor to this and similar scenes, although he makes sure to carefully rein in the comical elements of the movie to portray the fear that grips the men as they face their enemies. Suddenly, and entirely accidentally, Christmas Day brings a magical event that would forever sear the history books with a moment of humanity in the midst of bloody battle. The Germans place Christmas trees above their trench simply to get them out of the way, while Scottish bagpipers play along to the operatic voices they hear wafting over from the German camp. Then, as if by magic, all the men are united in No Man's Land for a festive celebration. The men tentatively make friends, show each other pictures of faraway lovers, and play soccer across the snowy landscape, all the while knowing that the coming days may find them killing one another. Carion crafts an emotional picture in JOYEUX NOEL, but never shirks from highlighting the horrific fates that possibly await his collection of characters. Although the occasion around which the film revolves is celebratory, JOYEUX NOEL is full of suitably melancholy antiwar sentiments, making for utterly compelling viewing.