It’s A Wonderful Life
There always seems to be a Christmas movie on, from classics to new movies, you cannot help but stumble on some holiday show or special. One cable station has 25 days of Christmas and shows almost nothing but Christmas movies and specials. Another claims to be the Christmas TV network, need I say that this miraculous holiday is bigger than any one TV network. Another cable station shows ‘A Christmas Story’ 24 hours starting Christmas Eve night. I usually watch it at least once during that time. I will post my thoughts on that classic later.
I would like to take a few moments and highlight my favorite Christmas movie and why. My Favorite Christmas movie is It’s A Wonderful Life.
George Bailey spent his entire life giving of himself to the people of Bedford Falls. He has always longed to travel, but something always prevented him from doing so. In order to prevent rich miserly Mr. Potter from taking over the entire town he took over the building and loan when his father died. On Christmas Eve, George’s Uncle Billy loses the business’s $8,000 while intending to deposit it in the bank. Potter finds the misplaced money. He hides it. When the bank examiner discovers the shortage later that night, George realizes that he will be held responsible and sent to jail. The company will collapse, finally allowing Potter to take over the town. Thinking of his wife, their young children, and other loved one’s will be better off with him dead, he contemplates suicide.
The prayers of his loved ones result in an angel named Clarence coming to earth to help George, with the hope of finally earning his wings. He shows George how things would have been like if he had never been born. A nightmarish vision in which the Potter-controlled town is saturated in sex and sin, those George loves are dead, ruined, or miserable. He realizes that he has touched many people in a positive way that his life has truly been a wonderful life of serving his fellow man and defending them from a greedy creep.
This simple yet powerful story prompts us to think of how our life touches others and what it means to live a good life. We can, and maybe should use this film as a way of analyzing our lives asking where we fail to live up to our own ideal.
This classic is the most aired Christmas film of all-time. We have all seen it, but how many of us have pondered the message of this film. Film when done well can help us learn something about life. This film’s message is in its title: life is wonderful. We’ve all been through rough patches and at times wondered if our loved ones would be better off without us. This film’s emphatic no should give us hope that our life has and will make a difference.
When you are feeling down remember all you have done for others. Even warmly greeting a stranger, offering your seat to another, holding a door open for someone, or some other seemingly inconsequential action or word could make a difference in another person’s life. Then, there are the bigger things we have all done that make a difference to someone and leave a print on our life too.
I like this film because—much like the Shawshank Redemption, which I have watched the past few years on Thanksgiving night—gives us hope that our life matters and we do make a difference. No matter how small and inconsequential our life seems to be that we matter and should value our life and in turn value all life, so life really is wonderful. Life is good, a miracle, a gift and only truly fulfilled when shared. On our own life is small and desperate, in community even if the community is a community of two or three life is bigger, grander and beautiful.
The final scenes of this film are exuberant and overwhelming. George Bailey has had a revelation of how wondrous life is and it’s bursting from every pore of his body and infecting others too. He runs through the town bellowing “Merry Christmas” to everyone and everything he encounters. Even the miserly Mr. Potter gets a “Merry Christmas.” George arrives home is greeted by the bank examiner and says, “Isn’t wonderful I’m going to jail”, then runs up the stairs and sweeps his children into his arms. His wife enters. An impromptu party ensues with the entire town and then some coming to his aide giving money freely as if it were just paper.
George Bailey is the richest man in town not because he has money or is a world-traveler, but because he has friends.
The famous line says every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings. So, I say let the bells ring loud and clear. Let us fully realize how wonderful life can be and is.
Then, as the movie ends, everyone bursts out in the ecstatic singing of Hark! The Herald Angel Sings!
This movie while not mentioning Jesus once has the gospel written all over it. Life is wonderful when we have friends, community, love and compassion. It is when we truly know who we are and have a purpose that life is a grand adventure.