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“In the Shadow of War”: British-French-German Film Days

“In the Shadow of War”: British-French-German Film Days
In Wellington and Auckland, 1 to 12 October

Audiences in the two main centres have a rare opportunity to view a series of European films which commemorate the Great War.

In the Shadow of War film days are free of charge, screened in Wellington and Auckland by the cultural relations agencies of Germany, France and Britain as the world remembers the realities of WW1,
100 years from when the first shots were fired.

“I am really happy that our three cultural institutes can work together on a project which can commemorate such a tragically significant historical event as the First World War,” says Goethe-Institut Director, Bettina Senff.

“With so many conflicts still occurring globally, we are privileged to live in peaceful societies and be able to work together to foster mutual understanding.”

“The films are all classics yet made in very recent years,” says British Council Director New Zealand, Ingrid Leary. “Through clever storytelling and real artistry, they all manage to keep audiences entertained, yet leaving them in no doubt at their conclusion about the horrors of war.”

“There is more to war than blood, sweat and tears.” says Jean-Marc Dépierre, Alliance française Chief Representative in New Zealand. “Each of these movies is a testimony of how, in the most dreadful context, the human spirit can reveal not only its darkest side but also its most illuminating beauty.”

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Merry Christmas/Joyeux Noël – French, German and English with English sub-titles -- captures a rare moment of grace from one of the worst wars in the history of mankind. On Christmas Eve 1914, as German soldiers face French and Scottish regiments from their respective trenches, a musical call-and-response turns into an impromptu cease-fire, as soldiers trade chocolates and champagne, play soccer and compare pictures of their wives. The stories intertwine seamlessly, combining real people with invented characters and mingling real-life with fiction. The movie speaks to universal human emotions that transcend country and culture and illustrate the futility of the “war that was supposed to end all wars”.

Odyssey of Heroes /Die Männer der Emden -- German with English sub-titles – recounts the famous tale of WWI navy vessel SMS Emden and her crew. Told in flashbacks from the perspective of Lieutenant Commander Helmuth von Mücke, this amazing story begins in the German controlled port of Tsingtao in China at the outbreak of war and follows the light cruiser through enemy controlled waters around the Cocos Islands where it is sunk by the HMAS Sydney. The real adventure begins there, with von Mücke and his crew commandeering a rickety old schooner. They sail to Indonesia to attempt a daring return to Berlin, some 13,000km away. Odyssey of Heroes is a fascinating history lesson and highly entertaining drama.

A Very Long Engagement/ Un long dimanche de fiançailles -- French with English sub-titles – is a mystery romance film, set in January 1917. After beig convicted of self-mutilation in order to be sent home, five French soldiers are marched into the no man’s land between the French and German lines where they are certain to be killed. Their brutal punishment has been hushed up for more than two years when Mathilde Donnay (Amélie’s Audrey Tautou) begins a relentless quest to find out whether her fiancé, one of those 5 men officially “killed in the line of duty,” might still be alive. In his movie, Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet brings everything together - his joyously poetic style, the lovable Tautou, a good story worth the telling - into a highly entertaining and poignant piece of story-telling.

Oh! What a Lovely War directed by the late Richard Attenborough, is a masterpiece of acting and direction. A musical film, it documents the events of World War I using popular songs of the time, many of which were parodies of older popular songs. It uses metaphorical settings such as Brighton’s West Pier to criticise the manner in which the war was eventually won. The diplomatic smoke and mirrors of those in authority are set in a fantasy location inside the pierhead pavilion, far from the trenches. Despite the strong parody, the viewer is left under no illusion about the horrors of war.

The films will screen on a first-come first-served basis Wellington between October 1 and 4 at Nga Taonga Sound and Vision; and in Auckland between October 8 and 12 at various venues including the Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland War Memorial Museum and The University of Auckland.

Some screenings may be preceded by speeches which will add to the screening time.

For more details on screening times and locations, see the table below.

For more information please go to: |
or contact :

For Wellington screenings: Goethe-Institut New Zealand | Ph 04 385 6924
For Auckland screenings: Alliance française Auckland | Ph 09 3760009


Merry Christmas
Joyeux Noël
Drama | History | Music | 2005 | 116 min
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
WED 1 OCT 6pm
Auckland War Memorial Museum
SUN 12 OCT 2:30pm

Odyssey of Heroes
Die Männer der Emden
Drama | History | 2012 | 144 min
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
FRI 3 OCT 6pm
Auckland War Memorial Museum
SUN 12 OCT 11am

Oh! What a Lovely War
Musical | War | Satire | 2005 | 116 min
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
SAT 4 OCT 6pm
Auckland Art Gallery
WED 8 OCT 6pm

A Very Long Engagement
Un long dimanche de fiançailles
Drama | Mystery | Romance | 2004 | 133 min
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
THU 2 OCT 6pm
Auckland University
THU 9 OCT 6pm
Cocktail and presentation by Prof. S. Kitson
Film starts 6:45pm


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