Cinema becomes as much a part of Christmas tradition as the turkey and tinsel. Whether you’re blowing your nose at the end of The Snowman or shouting “I believe!” at Miracle on 34th Street,
Cinema becomes as
much a part of Christmas tradition as the turkey and tinsel. Whether you’re
blowing your nose at the end of The Snowman or shouting “I believe!” at Miracle
on 34th Street, festive films have embedded in them a lot of what
the season is all about, and no movie achieves this more than It’s A Wonderful
Set against a small suburban town, we follow the events through
the life of George Bailey that lead him to the point where he questions if he
is worth more dead than alive. Director Frank
Capra weaves through significant points in George’s life, as conflicting
interests of personal gain against the wellbeing of the community etch their
way across his once trouble free complexion.
George’s saving grace comes in Clarence, a pudgy faced angel
(second class) who must convince him that life is worth living in order to earn
his wings. The only feasible solution seems to be to show George Bailey what
life would be like if he’d never existed.
This is the type of Christmas value laden material that
could easily be construed as syrupy corn. George the all round nice guy with a
family and good friends living in a wholesome community whilst the evil Mr
Potter sneers and seethes as the town’s money grabbing baddie. But James Stewart seems incapable of taking
the role to the point of idealism, underplaying the opportunity to make a
rousing speech or generous gesture to instead provoke empathy as his financial
turmoil, successful friends and culling of ambition get the better of him.
The supporting cast are charming; Donna Reed plays the pin up woman of America as she dotes unashamedly
on George whilst simultaneously not taking any bull. Henry Travers is nothing short of adorable as the short saviour of
our lead and significant members of the community and George’s immediate family
are the sort you’d hope to see more in modern cinema.
The conclusion to Bailey’s story is predictable but gloriously
so and rich in heady festive worth.
Where contemporary mainstream cinema is concerned we could
be worse off, but amongst the CG heavy adaptations and sequels, the talking
animals and the big name rom coms you do wish there was more movies of this
calibre around. It’s a Wonderful Life will continue to be watched every festive
season for years to come, and will be passed through generations to come as what
can gladly be described by many as The Christmas film.