It’s A Wonderful Life: A Charming Celebration Of Togetherness

It is a film that has the cozy, comforting feeling attached to it despite its darker detours towards the concept of life and death
It’s A Wonderful Life: A Charming Celebration Of Togetherness

Recently, I finished a Matt Haig novel called Midnight Library. The female protagonist from the story is puzzled by all the things she hadn't done or hadn't given a chance to flourish before dying. The narrative progression almost seems like an extension to the famous Wayne Gretzky quote about how you miss all the chances that you don't take. Similarly, through the exploration of her regrets, her lack of interest in living is turned upside down towards the endless possibilities of life. She navigates through all the opportunities that she did not take while she had the chance to.  

It's a Wonderful Life is a classic example of the same life-affirming trope. This Hollywood classic by Frank Capra is a sure-shot tearjerker. A protagonist who has been repeatedly dealt the bad cards in his life resists himself from doing anything that he aspires to and sadly resigns to his reality. When he plans to leave his small town, that doesn't work out. Things not working out for him almost becomes the norm. 

Many folks within his town joke about his idealistic drive and make him doubt his commitment towards them. The conundrum between ambitions and idealism that he grapples with makes his journey a classic coming-of-age tale that doesn't age into his complete submission despite an utmost devotion towards doing good deeds. There's a battle within him due to that, which makes him question all the lives he could have lived had he not been honest to his ideals, had he not been so committed to the service of the working class.

In its sweet manner, the film conveys a tirade against the arrogance of the ruling class which considers their respective happiness as the satisfaction of all and thus takes the situation of every other person for granted. With the tall, skinny figure of James Stewart, the film finds a starry-eyed adult at its center who keeps on believing in the goodwill of all despite the odds being against him. Through the innocence coupled with his charisma, Stewart maintains an act that is one for the ages. 

Through the script, the film makes this concept of kindness and goodwill – very simple & understandable for adults and children alike. For a child watching George Bailey choosing life over death – conveys a moral tale in an ideal way. For an adult, George poses a possibility of what a selfless act proves in our life – in a world that is becoming more and more asset & possession-driven. It makes the possession of people's belief in you more prominent with its earned moments of sentimentality.

Like Anand Gandhi mentioned in one of his conversations, money is essentially a metaphor. While it is an extension of the barter system and a symbol of a transaction, it is also a signifier of trust – the reason why we put our money in the banks is that we trust them with the security they provide. Be it George or even his father, they represent the same trust – for the folks from this small American town. They stand by those people and try their best to keep on helping these people despite not being a profitable business – which makes the faith in them never run dry. For a film that has been considered as one of the classic Christmas films, all of these facets make it grander beyond merely celebratory purpose to become an extension for the story's relevance. 

The film embodies the festive spirit of togetherness in the sweetest way possible. It is a film that has the cozy, comforting feeling attached to it despite its darker detours towards the concept of life and death. The urge for wanting one's life back does not emerge due to an accidental, myopic revelation but due to a drawn-out approach. This makes the viewer understand how an individual lives through goodwill from their acts and the kindness they show to others. George's realisation resonates just as strongly and sways me swiftly with its overwhelming emotional beats.

Isn't that what one wants from a Christmas film? The warmth of being able to enjoy something as a community instead of just oneself – to not be alone in life and to make oneself feel less lonely? The ending that succeeds in making me weep with the same thought makes this film my go-to choice for a Christmas film. 

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