Is Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Really That Wonderful?
What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word, and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.
-George Baily “It’s A Wonderful Life”
Christmas! Many people will sit around their electronic devices and watch the classic film by Frank Capra “It’s A Wonderful Life!” It’s that film you watch in film class. It’s that film that makes you think about your life. It’s that film that reminds you an angel get’s it’s wings when a bell rings!
But, was George Baily’s life so Wonderful?
A few nights ago I curled up in a warm blanket on the sofa and popped in the DVD (yes, can you believe DVD’s are old school?). I’ve seen it at least a million times! Even in Cinema 101 at Pasadena City College many years ago.
The protagonist George Baily played by Jimmy Stewart, like many protagonists in a hero’s journey is a wacky underdog. Through out the film he seeks adventure and wants to travel. But every time he’s about to embark on his journey to far off places like Africa, some thing happens, LIFE! Life happens!
His father dies. His brother takes another job after college and can’t take over the family “Building and Loan” business. He gets married to an un adventurous person, and even his honeymoon gets derailed with some type of drama that he has to go back to work and resolve because his uncle is a drunk incompetent person who can’t hold down the fort!
Life inevitably happens to George! He buys a home, has too many kids, and keeps slaving away at a job he never wanted. He never lives his dream of traveling to far off places and meeting exotic people.
Every time I watch the film, I root for George to go on his far off adventures. I get excited at the point where he’s about to leave with his suitcase in hand, but of course this becomes anticlimactic! He never leaves his town of “Bedford Falls!”
Ok fine call me “black hearted!” But I too work in a “self sacrificing” profession where I’m constantly helping people. Constantly giving. And if I don’t take care of myself and say “no” to certain situations no one seems to care and society will keep taking.
We see this in the film. Yes, George helps so many people. He saves lives. Fulfills people’s American dream of home ownership. But, he sacrifices his own wishes and dreams for others.
Self sacrifice, that’s the American way. Seems like this movie is a bit of mind control to keep society stuck in consumerism! I know I know it’s crass… but it explains why so many people are unhappy these days!
I hear it all the time! People complaining that they are unhappy! People complaining that they have never got the chance to pursue their dreams because LIFE happened to them!
Newsflash: Life just doesn’t happen to you!
We are creators and create our own destiny on a daily basis! Whether it is conscious or unconscious we are magicians of our own universe.
Yes, it’s true! I’ve stepped off of the treadmill of life! I am the magician of my own universe and I create amazing daily adventures! I’ve traveled to beautiful places; I’ve created my own business, and keep friends who are grounded!
Yes, I’m still SINGLE! But what’s wrong with that? I’ve learned not to settle in my life. Not to stay in a job where people disrespect you. Not to be around people who put you down.
If George left Bedford Falls behind to pursue adventure and his life, I assure you, Bedford Falls would still be there. The people with drama would have figured it out on their own, and perhaps George would have felt fulfilled and not try and kill himself!
I strive to be free and live my creative life full of adventure. If I find true love along this journey…. Then it’s just gravy on my already “Wonderful Life!”
2 Responses to “Is Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Really That Wonderful?”
I guess that I’m still learning from life and every line from your article makes me think if I’m in the correct place/time or if I’m doing right or wrong, but I think it’s just a matter of time to know that.
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