My boyfriend and I have developed a Christmas ritual: watching It’s a Wonderful Life at the cinema as close as we possibly can to Christmas (this year it’s Christmas Eve). The viewings tend to be sold out and, in contrast to the shoppers outside, everyone seems to be in a good – festive, even – mood. You can take mulled wine into the screening. I do love my local cinema.
What’s interesting about It’s a Wonderful Life is that George Bailey is having a pretty awful Christmas; this is one of the reasons the film wasn’t very successful when it was released, because it was deemed too depressing. This time of year, people are forced into faking smiles when they don’t feel like smiling. Loved ones are missed and it’s the darkest time of the year in the Northern hemisphere. I felt awful at one point last week; and the merry people wearing Christmas jumpers and wacky hats promoting their charities to jingly songs made everything seem so much worse. It’s a difficult time of year for so many, made harder by the almost forced jollity.
George Bailey is at his lowest on Christmas Eve. He’s then shown the effect he has on the small town he’s longed to leave for years. His wife, without him, works in the local library – the horror! Even though the film leaves me, anyway, feeling smiley and loved-up; the majority of the film is depressing. I do like depressing things though, anything that can make me feel something. But although viewers go away thinking how nice everything is, the Baileys’ have a terrible Christmas. George yelled at a teacher and his children, their house is run-down, not to mention the lost money that George feels bad enough about to commit suicide over. It’s quite a deceptive film really, and the optimistic ending makes people leave the film feeling one way, but what if the film finished sooner?
Christmas is a hard time of year for many people. I feel lucky that I can go to see a film that I really enjoy and spend a day or two with the people I love and like. Which I suppose is the general gist of It’s a Wonderful Life.
I hope you have a great holiday season and thank you for taking the time to read my blog this year. Merry Christmas!