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Twelve Christmas Movie Reviews in Twelve Days 2015: #5. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)


Directed by: Frank Capra
Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Henry Travers & Lionel Barrymore

This is another film that has been requested for me to review. I’ve heard of it, but just never seen it before. I’ve learnt from research that this is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, and constantly makes regular appearances in those top 1000 films you must see lists.

George Bailey (James Stewart) is suicidal. Overwhelmed by family obligations, being tied down at work and a sense of responsibility towards his community, he come to the realisation that his youth and dreams have passed him down. Being unable to turn back the clock, George wishes that he had never been born. Unbeknownst to George, his guardian angel, Clarence (Henry Travers), makes his wish come true and shows him how different life would be for his town, family, and friends would be had he never been born at all. George needs to realise that he shouldn’t throw it all away, but instead, embrace life and discover just how ‘wonderful’ life can be.

Wow! I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. I really did enjoy it. You’re pulled through a roller coaster of emotions throughout the film, and it isn’t by any means a light hearted look at life. Hand on heart; I haven’t seen anything quite like It’s a Wonderful Life.

I think some people may be put off because it’s a black and white film. That’s a pathetic excuse. This was made in the 1940’s where films were at a slower pace, compared to the offerings of today. People need to judge it for what it is.

I admit to getting a lump in my throat when Harry Bailey toasts his big brother George as “the richest man in town”. The emotions in that scene are so true and pure. It just doesn’t feel like acting at all! It just felt so genuine.

Let’s talk about the acting because it deserves the praise. Steward is brilliant as the small town dreamer who loses and finds his way in life. I felt a connection with him. I have a thankless job which I fucking hate with a passion, but writing is my way of escaping the real world. And because of that, I managed to get a job with Whatculture on a part time basis. Everyone else played their respected roles with conviction and perfection.

I did learn something here. I learnt that your life is not measured in material things, but in how you use the material things given to you and how your actions determine what people think of you.

A gem of a film.

Rating: **** ½ (Champion)


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