2002 - Canada - 100 minutes
Writer - Roger Aylward
Director - Rodney Gibbons
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars
I must admit that I am a sap for holiday movies - even most of the sugary sweet ones, but this film expresses the true spirit of the holiday with a sobering touch of reality.
It is based upon an actual event that took place during that last, frigid winter of World War II in Europe. A German mother whose son has been killed in the war and whose husband is still on the front lines takes her younger son to their small cabin in the woods of Germany. We find that she has become disillusioned with the war and is going to the cabin to basically hide until the conflict ends. She is sure that the Germans will soon face defeat and is fearful that her younger son - just approaching his teens - will be conscripted in the military's last desperate effort to survive.
It is Christmas Eve, and she is first "invaded" by American soldiers, one of whom has been seriously injured. The soldiers are suspicious and fearful of this enemy civilian, but are soon won over by her forthright attitude and willingness to help the wounded soldier. So won over that they agree to give their weapons over to the son to hide as the mother declares that her little cabin will be a place of peace in the midst of the horrors of war.
Before long a small band of German soldiers arrive and are tricked into giving up their weapons to one of the American soldiers who is unarmed because he had relinquished his weapons at the insistence of the mother.
Thus, these enemy soldiers are forced into an uneasy peace by this strong-willed woman who will not have her home desecrated by violence - especially on this Holy Night and the day that follows.
The interactions of these men and incredibly strong woman, all wearied by the dreadfulness of war, are both educational and uplifting.
An interesting interview with the son can be found online at:
This film is available on DVD, but it is not easy to find. I viewed it on the Hallmark Channel and am disappointed to find that it is not offered on NetFlix, so if you run across it on television, record it or watch it. You won't be disappointed.
December 17, 2006