Archive for December, 2008

The Wonderful Life – My Response

Wonderful? Sorry, George, It’s a Pitiful, Dreadful Life

Wow. How short sighted and lacking in imagination. Capra primarily serves us the indignities of George’s life and solidifies his short comings time and time again. He eliminates our propensity to raise George to a pedestal. His heroics aren’t stupendous (e.g., turning down certain fortune to try and serve his friends), but most of our sacrifices aren’t. And George’s faults, such as allowing the galling bitterness of failed plans to repeatedly ignite his anger, glare and lurk from the black corners of the screen. Most of us know those shadows all too well.

And the fascination with Pottersville is easy to understand but sadly lacks any imagination. Perhaps spend some time exploring the back rooms of those places. The reality is far less glamorous.  The music becomes a cacophony of sadness.

No. Capra doesn’t show us the days and evenings spent at the children’s practices and ballgames, getting to really know their neighbors, rooting on the home town teams. We miss George’s seemingly mediocre football career as he quietly leads the team to their first winning season Bedford Falls had ever known, setting up Harry for the fame that would be his. We only fleetingly catch the meaningful conversations with his dad, that he invariably draws strength from in future years. We miss the second outpouring of George’s community who surround him in those court appearances. And we miss seeing how plastics not only put the town back to work, but allow for the community to redevelop Mt. Bedford as a ski resort in the winter and a camp for needy youth in the summer.

No. Instead, we’re driven to the pitiful outskirts of our lives, and desperately hope for the salvation that we cannot bring to ourselves. You see, even our most heroic efforts fall desperately short. It’s something epitomized by our multitudes of veterans. They know the reality far better than we do. Such a message wasn’t needed in the years just after the WWII; but for those of us pampered and stuffed, a little bit of Wonderful Life may just be the ticket we need to slap us out of that miserable selfishness we’ve placed ourselves in.  It just might keep some of us out of those rundown shacks in Potter’s Field, and might even encourage us to pull some of our neighbors with us…including Ernie.

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