“It’s a Wonderful Life” still has something to say

The Christmas film released in 1947 is still a festive classic worth revisiting this year. From the legendary performances by nearly every actor in the film to the timeless message and heart-warming conclusion, it’s well worth considering. 

The film opens with stars, which represent angels, in the sky discussing how to save George Bailey, the protagonist, who is planning to commit suicide. We follow moments from George’s life up to his lowest moment, with an impactful conclusion. 

Despite a heartwarming story and long-lasting fame, the film certainly falls short in some places. Much like other films of its time, the exposition scenes contain a couple of outdated jokes and references that can be tedious. Though this could be seen as an accurate portrayal of the 1900s, it is important to consider the exposition to the actual film takes up about half of the runtime. This section of the film is completely overshadowed by the ending. 

The ending of this film is one of the purest manifestations of art and emotion in all of cinema. It encapsulates the contrast between reality and the twisted fiction we can trap ourselves in by bringing the protagonist into a world where he was never born. Heroes cease to exist, his wife lives sad and alone, all the hope and joy he brought to the world is painfully absent and the world is remarkably worse off without him. When he is finally brought back into reality, it seems the whole world has been waiting to tell him how much they care.

The trope for a character to wish they had never been born is usually inspired directly from this film. The final act of the film utilizes all the seemingly unimportant exposition the viewer absorbed earlier in an extremely satisfying way. Here, realism is portrayed by each and every actor in the film, bringing the film to life in the process. It communicates a timeless message of the importance of friendship and the value of life. Rather than forcing the moral onto the viewer, the film allows you to draw your own conclusions based on the events of the story. 

Though it is far from perfect, this film is worth sharing. From the incredible performances by each and every actor to a surprisingly applicable and timely message, this film deserves the reputation it upholds.

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