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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Merry Christmas / Joyeux Noel

The film, not the greeting. Though Merry Christmas to you all, as well.

You know you're a bit of a trad if... you decide to see 'Merry Christmas' rather
than 'Ninotchka' at the cinema because a review indicated that there might be a depiction of Midnight Mass in the former, which being set in 1914 could be interesting...

I must admit I was rather disappointed by the film. It seemed to me to cop out of asking (or answering) difficult questions about the nature of war, contenting itself with a too-easy pacifism (and the obligatory heavy-handed anti-clericalism). But never mind the analysis of the film as such - what of the liturgy?!

This was - odd, really. The lovable Scottish (yay!) priest celebrated Midnight Mass for the assembled troops; at least, apparently that's what happened, since he referred to it later. But what was seen and heard was a bit weird. First he belted out 'In Nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti', while facing the people with his arms outstretched. Eh? Then the next thing we heard was 'Sequentio Sancti Evangelii...' Then we heard the Preface and the Sanctus (said with the crowd joining in, in a very 'we just learned this and are reciting it like a class of schoolchildren' kind of a way, but I may be over-sensitive). Next thing we see is the priest getting some wifey (all right, the famous soprano come to comfort the German troops as she's married to the tenor who's among them) to sing Ave Maria. Then we hear the Ite Missa Est.

Now obviously I don't expect the director to show the whole Mass. You'd expect edited highlights, and picking on the audible parts is fair enough. What was strange was that they way the film was cut (or something - I know nothing of the technicalities, so don't know what was actually producing the effect) did not give the impression of time passing between the bits we heard and saw. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes in a film it is (somehow) made quite clear that several minutes have passed between one shot and another. Oddly, this was not the case here. This became particularly obvious while the lady was singing, when she appeared to jump straight from 'benedicta' to 'Sancta Maria', again with no apparent indication that we had (as it were) left and come back a few moments later. Most peculiar. Did the director just assume that no one would know or that no one was bothered? Or did he have to do a load of last-minute editing which left that scene making less sense than it had done?

There was also a weirdsville moment when the Evil Bishop said to a load of soldiers, in English, 'The Lord be with you', and they replied, 'And also with you'! Unless this was a customary usage already, surely (if such an exchange would have taken place in the vernacular at all) the response would have been, 'And with thy spirit'? I am quite ready to be corrected here. It seemed very odd, that's all.

Anyway. Not the point of the film. Sort of worth seeing, if you can avoid being distracted by this sort of thing!

Warmest Advent and Christmas greetings to you all!

Comments [1]

Blogger Perpétua:

I'm afraid that it is one of my terrible weaknesses that would make me very highly strung about those sorts of things! I have heard wonderful comments about the movie and would like to see it anyway very much!

Hooray for joy! Dominus prope est! :)

Thu Dec 22, 12:10:00 PM GMT  

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