A feel-good drama with fantasy elements. Calling it a Christmas movie is a bit misleading I think.
Much like The Shipping News (2001), it’s a film about community, and what that entails, pros and cons. George Bailey’s struggle of trying to get away from his roots, and if escaping would in fact be more meaningful or not? It’s A Wonderful Life is about how during our lives we touch many more people than we realize.
Probably one of the most uplifting and inspiring films ever made, about seeing goodness in others, and how our society could be better with less greed and more sharing. Placed number one on the American Film Institutes list of the most inspirational American films of all time.
A bit of trivia. The original story “The Greatest Gift” was written by Philip Van Doren Stern in November 1939. After being unsuccessful in getting the story published, he decided to make it into a Christmas card, and mailed 200 copies to family and friends in December 1943.
The film was remastered in colour in the 1980s, I have to admit I stuck to the good old black and white original. Only after it lapsed into the public domain in 1973 and became a Christmastime TV perennial did it don the mantle of a holiday film classic.
As another reviewer writes, you’d have to possess a very hard heart not to find something to love in this story. I agree with film critic Roger Ebert that the conclusion of the film makes such an impact. A third reviewer writes: “Maybe it takes a filmmaker so fascinated with the American Dream to see how close it can be to a nightmare.”
A heart-warming movie, but perhaps a bit over-praised for me. I found the film to have some very memorable scenes, particularly towards the end, and at the beginning, but slightly uneven and boring in the middle section. Still, highly recommendable, particularly during December and Christmas.
The film received mixed reviews and weak box office on initial release. It’s A Wonderful Life is ranked #30 on IMDB’s top 250, and received five Academy Award nominations, best picture, best director, best actor (James Stewart), best editing, and best sound recording.
Readers, I’m curious to hear what you think, love it, hate it, let me know in the comments!