The story of George Bailey’s persistent hindrances and his need to change the life plans he desperately desires are almost as persistent as the attempts of it to be recreated in various other films. Such attempts illustrate the universal essence contained in this impeccably constructed movie – what if we never existed?; what if we didn’t meet this person?; how was their life affected by us?; what would have happened differently in my life if I did this instead of that? We all naturally ponder these types of questions and every year we return to George Bailey to show us why we needn’t bother.
It’s a sad joy to watch his life stagnate and its appeal rests on Stewart; he transcends accolades in his creation of a performance that forgoes melodrama and hyperbole in difficult situations to portray credibly. As unbelievable as the premise is, like all good Christmas films it has the magic to draw you into its reality and with its Deistic message inspire and empower. Fate and destiny hold nothing over us, existence is only the series of all human decisions interacting with one another, and we can make our life as wonderful as we want.
At the time of year when consumption is in abundance, It’s a Wonderful Life makes you appreciate the little things and cherish the essentials in life…for a fleeting moment anyway before reality chucks us out of Martini’s.