I know I've already trilled on at length about my favourite Christmas movies in a previous blog. But that was October. Since it's now a fortnight til The Big Day, I thought I'd make a special mention for the one film which reminds me of Christmas the most- Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life (1946).
I first watched this film when I was really young- I can't quite remember how young, but I do remember it being an early Christmas staple in our house. It's one of my mum's favourites, and I've always associated it with the aftermath of putting up the tree. It's one of the all-time classic feel good films... seriously, even the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge couldn't deny the festive magic of It's A Wonderful Life. Considering its year of release, I'd bet everyone was feeling in need of a good pick-me-up and this film is the perfect antidote. It tugs on the heartstrings without ever being phoney or saccharine, and is never rose tinted- for a start, its protagonist begins his journey by contemplating suicide.
At some point or another, everyone feels down and maybe even wonders how life would be if they weren't around- but unlike the rest of us, George Bailley (the legendary James Stewart) actually gets to see how this would be, with a little help from his guardian angel Clarence.
The film follows George's journey through his life without him, and realises that although his lifestyle may be modest, his close-knit town would be alot worse off without him. By the time the film reaches its conclusion, with George realising that after it all he does want to live again. After spending his life giving up his big dreams for the good of the community, he finds he really is the richest man in town.
It's a simple yet original story, elegantly told, perfectly acted and entirely heart warming- a classic tale of despair and redemption, all wrapped up nicely in time for Christmas.