“Am I doing enough in this life?” Everyone has heard the question in their head before. Mix that annoying question with Christmas magic and you end up with this wonderful movie.
We dare to forget it, but every individual life matters. It is also that thought that wanders in The stone by Bram Vermeulen and the sentence that It’s A Wonderful Life best sums it up.
The story revolves around George Bailey (James Stewart), a young man who lives in the town of Bedford Falls and works in a bank that provides loans to people with modest incomes. But George dreams of more: he wants to study, see the world, experience exciting things. Yet he does not seem to leave his hometown. He marries Mary, has four children and takes over the bank from his father. At the same time, George sees his brother Harry do all those things: Harry builds a successful football career, can go to college with money that George has given him and is later decorated as a war hero.
When George gets into financial trouble and realizes that his life is literally worth more when he’s dead than when he’s alive, he receives a visit from his Guardian Angel Clarence. He takes him on the road and shows him what would have happened if George never existed.
It was a very original premise, especially for that time, which still stands effortlessly after all these years. When the film was released, some critics found the film too sentimental, and film buffs still hold that view today. They err. It’s A Wonderful Life George has a quite complex main character, a man who fears love, marriage and family life because then – in his opinion – he confirms his fear of getting stuck. A man who can no longer recognize the happiness he has achieved as such.
Both director Frank Capra and his lead actor then arrived It’s A Wonderful Life started from the horror of the Second World War. They found it difficult to find their place back in Hollywood, but they still found the right film for that moment: a film that radiates the warmth that every person must feel flowing through them to be able to sustain this life in the most difficult times. An antidote to cynicism. A reminder of your worth as a person. And a film that they urgently need to program again during the Christmas season.