Silent Night

I did see one Christmas movie this year that wasn’t about a woman finding a much-needed boyfriend (though every commercial break contained ads for two other such movies: one actually called Boyfriend for Christmas, if I’m not mistaken – I do try to skip through those).   It starred Linda Hamilton as Elizabeth, a German woman near the end of WWII, who ends up having both American and German soldiers spend Christmas evening at her cottage.   In relative peace.   Bonus: based on a true story.

Her portrayal is excellent throughout.   It turns out she’s brought her son close to the front lines on purpose, hoping to surrender to Americans.   She’s lost her husband and another son in this war, and the younger son – at age twelve – is due to begin serving in the German military.   The son is completely indoctrinated to the “Fuhrer knows everything, Germany will take over the world” philosophy, and at the start of the story she’s calmly asking him question after question about his beliefs, leading him to find the gaps in his own understandings.   That’s when the lost American soldiers show up and take over the cabin to tend a wounded man.

I don’t want to spoil the whole thing.   Suffice it to say: she’s terrified, as anyone would be, but she keeps gaining everyone’s trust until eventually all the soldiers – American and German – sit down to dinner.   There’s a lot more to the story than that, of course.

What this movie does not include is even the slightest hint that Elizabeth is in danger of being raped, is going to fall in love with any of them, is a mommy figure, a Virgin Mary figure or a former ballerina who used to look real hot in her tutu.   She doesn’t even put across that beatific saintly dignity normally required of women in movies where they’re not being raped, romanced or substituted for mommies.   Her role could not be gender-flipped to a man because all able-bodied men (and fairly young boys) were required to be fighting in the war at that point.   And yet, her gender just isn’t really a factor.


  1. SunlessNick says

    Making gender simultaneously matter and not matter is a very delicate trick. I’ll have to keep an eye out for this one.

  2. scarlett says

    Which begs the question, is it REALLY a Christmas movie if it doesn’t involve a woman hooking up with that man she desperately needed :p???

  3. Genevieve says

    I saw this movie a few years ago–LOVED it (though I was fourteen at the time and believed every story NEEDED a romance of some sort, and therefore contriving an alternate ending in which Elizabeth ended up with the oldest of the German soldiers, but I now see how idiotic this was). Quite an excellent Christmas story.

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