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Based on a True Story is the award-winning podcast that compares what really happened with what we see on the silver screen. Grab your ticket each week as we'll travel through history to learn the true story behind your favorite movies.

Dec 19, 2016

With the Christmas season upon us, I wanted to cover a film that'd help represent the Christmas spirit.

In 2005, French filmmaker Christian Carion released his second full-length feature film. Joyeux Noël, which translated to English means Merry Christmas, was released in France on November 9th, 2005, and only ended up making about $3.5 million at the box office. That's significantly less than the $22 million it cost to make.

The film wasn't released in the United States until June of 2006, which might be why it only made about $1 million in the U.S. A film about Christmas released in June doesn't set it up for success.

Still, despite not winning at the box office the film won the hearts of critics. In 2006, Joyeux Noël was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year at the Academy Awards, the Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes and the Best Film not in the English Language at the BAFTA Awards.

The story behind the film is of the 1914 Christmas truce, an event that took place as World War I was just getting started, and almost ended it before it began. Seemingly out of nowhere, enemy soldiers decided to lay down their arms and instead spent December 25th, 1914, by singing Christmas songs and exchanging gifts. What more could highlight the Christmas spirit than soldiers deciding to stop one of the bloodiest wars in human history?

Even if it was just for a short time.

At the end of Joyeux Noël, there's a bit of text on the screen that says the characters are fictional. But it's director, Christian Carion, claims the film is historically accurate. So how accurate is it?

 

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