Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men, and all the other reasons to watch the Frank Capra classic this year and every year.
There are very few films that I would actually say have had a true impact on me as a man and as a human being, as much as Frank Capra’s classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I genuinely feel, every time that I watch this film, I get something new from it. Something vital about me and the way our crazy world works is revealed. There is something in us that desires a bit of an uplift, and a bit of understanding that all the bad luck and the hardships that we encounter in life hold meaning and significance. That need for reinforcement is one of the many reasons the movie is still around and holiday required viewing. Here are my top five reasons I think “It’s a Wonderful Life” has been important and resonant now, if not more so, than in the time it was released in theaters in 1946.
Count your blessings.
George tells Mary, “Everything’s wrong!” It is a heart-shattering moment for Mary and for George. He feels that life has crushed him under its boot and he has no way out, with nothing going his way. In reality, George has been blessed with so much and he needs a little reminder from above, in the form of Clarence to remind him.
The perfect marriage.
The marriage between George and Mary is based on the purest of loves. He famously promises to “rope the moon” for her. She sticks with him through all their bad luck, broken down house and bad business decisions. She is unfazed and resolute in her love for him.
The bad guy isn’t always punished.
One of the great cinematic villains is Barrymore’s “Mr. Potter” his attempt to ruin George is foiled, but there is no comeuppance in the end for the character. Often films feel the need to tidy up everything in the end that filmgoers won’t be satisfied until all the characters, for good or ill, get what they deserve. I like how the film gives us the sense that life is not all smiles and rainbows, but that sometimes life is just life.
Friends, real friends, can change everything.
One blessing that George and that every man takes advantage of, is friendship. It is extremely hard to get, let alone keep, a good friend. At the films end George and his business are saved from ruin by his brother and the people of the town with donations. His appreciation for his life of bumbling and good deeds has saved him from his own blindness and unconditional affection from those close to him.
Life, every life, has an effect on everyone else.
The Butterfly Effect is not just a bad Ashton Kutcher film, but is a very real thing. Your decisions and your actions make the world happen just as much as any politician or world leader. You words can touch and hurt as much as a hug or a bullet from a gun. We are the cause AND the effector of change in this world; it is a huge responsibility that we need to be aware of and pray that we make the right decisions.