“It’s a Wonderful Life” revisited

“It’s a Wonderful Life” revisited

According to Wikipedia: “It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story and booklet The Greatest Gift, which Philip Van Doren Stern self-published in 1943 and is in turn loosely based on the 1843 Charles Dickens novella A Christmas Carol. The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his personal dreams in order to help others in his community and whose thoughts of suicide on Christmas Eve bring about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he touched and what the world would be like if he did not exist. Theatrically, the film’s break-even point was $6.3 million, about twice the production cost, a figure it did not come close to achieving on its initial release. Because of the film’s disappointing sales, Capra was seen by some studios as having lost his ability to produce popular, financially successful films. Although It’s a Wonderful Life initially received mixed reviews and was unsuccessful at the box office, it became a Christmas classic after its copyright lapsed in 1974 and it fell into the public domain, which allowed it to be broadcast without licensing or royalty fees. Today, It’s a Wonderful Life is considered to be one of the greatest films of all time and among the best Christmas films …

A year ago, I blogged “Ten favourite films for Christmas” and included “It’s a Wonderful Life” as one of my ten. Today, I agree with that selection and as of right now (for reasons I will go into) it may well be my top favourite. To quote from my article: “It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama film starring James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his personal dreams to help others in his community, whose suicide attempt on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence, who shows George how he has touched the lives of others and how different life would be for his wife Mary and his community if he had not been born. I never fail to be touched by this film and moved by its profound insights”.

I confess, up to a few years prior to that, I wasn’t even or barely just aware of the film. But I have this friend who is a huge fan of the film and has often enthusiastically and eloquently plugged it. We are on similar theological wavelengths and share similar outlooks when it comes to our community activism. But, and pertinent to my “for reasons I will go into” statement, we don’t always agree politically and, when it comes to things that have got me riled these past few years and despite seeing hope round the corner amidst deepening darkness, e.g. Brexit, Trump, Corona, Ukraine, Election Fraud, Wokeism, Globalist Cabal, often feeling powerless to do anything about it, and coming to terms with the sorts of attitudes of folk that disturbed the film’s hero, we may be far from agreeing.

All this brings me to “It’s A Wonderful Life: Faith, Hope, and Duty, a video that caught my attention in my daily check out of BitChute for its alternative take on what is happening in the world. The chap, whose show it is, going under the title Quite Frankly (see here for his website), is evidently in the same class as me: “the deplorables”, and besides devoting the two-hour broadcast to reflecting on things pertaining to my maybe favourite film ever, caught my attention. The introductory blurb reads: “I’ve been waiting for week to bring John Paul Rice onto the show to do a Frank Capra night, and the time has finally arrived. Tonight we’ll discuss some of the more powerful themes that are embedded in the film’s script, and the performances. We’ll talk direction, plot, and even dissect a few of our favorite scenes in order to make them relevant to our every day lives, generations later”.

I am less than forty minutes in (but there is much to do this Christmas Eve, besides writing up my blog in time for Christmas) but seen enough to get the point I want to elaborate upon in this article. I like his caveat and having studied much in the way of great art, literature etc. (after all, much as I would love to quiz him, Frank Capra is no longer around to do so). I concur: “as in all forms of art there is room for all sorts of interpretations”. I also like his early reflection of two alternative takes on the film. One is by a woke critic: “it is a horror film about capitalism and family betrayal” and another by a fellow deplorable: “it parallels to the crimes of central bankers led by the US Federal Reserve”. But I love the insights given be film maker, John Paul Rice: “it is a celebration of existence itself without preaching it to you … encapsulates a theme that all humans can be redeemed … man’s wealth not defined by riches possessions etc but how many lives he touched … helping others in moments of need when rest of the world turn their back on them … the film portrays the cycle of collapse of institutions and systems cycle” and no doubt there is lots more when I return to it.

As for the main lessons I learn from the film, and why I believe it is so relevant today, it is the implications of what might have been if George Bailey hadn’t been born. Bedford Falls, the town where he lived and operated all his life, with all its faults and follys, would have been renamed Pottersville, after the main villain of the film, if it weren’t for George. Pottersville represents a dystopian nightmare which, if the evil, satanic, globalist cabal that run Planet Earth were to have their way, would happen. Being psychopaths, void of empathy, they would cause the world with its much reduced population to be ruled by the privileged few over the rest, turning them into dumbed down, controlled drones, an extrapolation of its notions of Great Reset, new normal and a perverted message of build back better; one that is void of life, love, creativity, freedom, humanity and joy. But it needs people like George, doing their thing, even if they do it imperfectly and are opposed, to stop all that from happening. It is this prospect that excites me this Christmas time.

While not an option for me and I was long ago convicted about the sin of self-pity, I too have often felt like the hero of the film and wanted to end it all. I’ve done my bit amidst many failures and betrayals and feel I have nothing more to offer, and that being the case, why not end it all now? It needed his guardian angel to tell George Bailey how things might have been if he weren’t around and did what he did in the face of great odds to deter him and, while my own guardian angel appears silent, I’m sure, if he were to make an entrance, he would show me things I was not aware off and some of it good. A friend of mine advised me of another top ten favourite, feel good film, to be shown on BBC later today: “Chariots of Fire”, and then there is another, competing for my best ever favourite, and interestingly to do with an appropriate topic this Christmas season, the theme of redemption: “The Shawshank Redemption”.

We are spoiled for choice! You needn’t agree with my analysis – just go and watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and enjoy it! And finally, a Merry Christmas to any who have managed to read this to the end.

An afterthought concerns Hollywood and a thought I don’t recall being brought out by “Quite Frankly” or anyone else come to that. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a stereo-typical Hollywood film insofar it encompassed all the Hollywood institutions, actors, script writers, and the wide array of people needed to make the film. While it was almost by accident it is now widely seen as one of Hollywood’s greatest films, after early modest public appeal, it is, as I have argued above, justified, giving encouragement to many, and this despite my own religious upbringing that sees films as a device of the Devil. Credit goes, not just to the inspired brilliance of Frank Capra and James Stewart, but to many others involved in the project. But here is my point … one of the impressions I get checking out alternative media is Hollywood today is a dark and corrupt place, with multiple citations of child sexual abuse and the few who call this out, along with other examples of the evil culture underlying it, being ostracized, cast aside or bumped off (arguably conspiracy theory but one day will be shown as fact). It may be signs were there in 1946, when the film, whose enduring quality is its wholesomeness and message of hope, of a less wholesome culture in which the film was made. It seems (to me, at least, and given these exposés) that Hollywood has since veered markedly to the dark side, and the question is begged: whether or not Hollywood can be redeemed?

PS: After having written the above, I realised today (Christmas Day) it was time for me to watch the film again and glad I did. As often happens with the obvious go to place (YouTube) for visual media, you can do so, but only at a cost, but a Google search revealed a link to watch the film for free – so no excuse, go on; just click here!

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