So, the family and I watched It’s A Wonderful Life last weekend, and I continue to be amazed at how much this film has stuck with me over the years, how meaningful it is to me, and how it never fails, no matter how many times I watch it, to move me to tears.
And I really think you have to be horribly cynical to write the movie off as overly sentimental Norman Rockwell-ish kitsch Americana, as some unfortunately do.
Sure, there’s a thread of post-WWII triumphalism, but focusing on that is missing the forest for the trees.
I LOVE the unapologetic romanticism in It’s A Wonderful Life, from kiddie Mary Hatch’s secret declaration that she’ll love George Bailey until the day she dies and George’s offer to lasso the moon so that Mary can swallow it, and it would all dissolve, and the moonbeams would shoot out of her fingers and toes and the ends of her hair, to George’s plea on that snowy bridge, that he didn’t care what happened to him, if only he could get back to his wife and kids.
In a way, you could say that the country needed this giant expression of the power of love after having been through the nightmare of war.
On a more personal level, I actually didn’t see the movie until I was in college, and I related strongly to George’s central challenge: wanting since he was a kid to escape the confines of a small town, to see the world and do big, important things with his life, while one obstacle after another thwarted his dreams.
I remember being rather lost at the time, not enjoying school, not sure what I wanted to major in or do with my life, fairly common young adult angst, but it was somehow isolating. And so, George’s story broke through that isolation, helping me feel ok about wanting those things and justifying my struggle with not being able to manifest them.
Choosing just one scene for this Video Fridays installment, was difficult, but ultimately I chose the ending, because one of the only things that has ever gotten me through difficult times was experiencing the truth of the note to George that Clarence the angel wrote in the copy of The Adventures of Tom
Sawyer that he left behind, and I paraphrase: no man is a failure who has family and friends.
Happy Weekend, everyone!