It really is, isn’t it? You can’t help but marvel at the beauties of this world, of the opportunities afforded to us as an intelligent species and the infinite possibilities available to us mere mortals. But sometimes life can get hard; really hard. Anything magical can instead seem miserly and it can all mount up to a point where there seems no other way out. It’s A Wonderful Life, a Golden-Era movie from 1946 features the impeccable James Stewart as George Bailey, a man on the brink of suicide on Christmas Eve. Through the intervention of his Guardian Angel Clarence Odbody, George sees his positive impact on the life of all those around him and how, without him, life wouldn’t be very nice.
It’s A Wonderful Life is A Christmas Carol in reverse: a spiritual being shows a man life without him, except this time it’s not Scrooge requiring redemption but rather a man requiring proof of the need for his continued existence. George Bailey has lived a life of selfless consideration from others, continually saving people in various ways as we see in flashbacks when his Angel is being shown his life. George has sacrificed a lot for where he is today, and an unfortunate series of events have led him to contemplate whether life and the lives of others will be better off without him.
Upon meeting his guardian angel with no true belief in this apparition, George is shown his life without him and how the impact of his non-existence paints a different picture for all those he has touched. It’s a beautifully crafted story that shows the impact of each individual on our lives. James Stewart’s perfect portrayal of a man down and out makes you hooked on this film from beginning to end, desperately connecting with a man who is more deserving of life than many.
It’s the perfect film for Christmas Eve. The mania and hysteria of the season is over, the presents are wrapped, the turkey is cooked, the veggies are prepped and your feet are up on the sofa with a bottle of Peroni. There are a plethora of films to choose from for Christmas Eve viewing, but there’s just no other film that’s none more important than this one. It makes you re-evaluate the troubles in your own life and the fear of not having enough presents under the tree; it makes you think just how important you are to someone somewhere but also how important the people in your life truly are. Second chances are often a scarce thing, and this film gently reminds us how frail and precious life is.
And as Hollywood can only do, the final scene is a beautiful and sincere ending to a concentrated film. George realises the positive impact he has on the town as nearly every person turns out to help him from his rut and he sees – for the first time in a long time – that he really has had a wonderful life. And for better or for worse, at the end of it all – it really is.
“Remember: no man is a failure who has friends.”