Frank Capra literally brought the spirit of Christmas to life once and for all with his timeless classic It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). The film tells the story of a troubled New York man George Bailey (James Stewart) who has lived for other all his life but now, around Christmas time, he faces complete bankruptcy and arrest due to taking blame for a lapse of his uncle. Ready to commit suicide, Bailey’s life suddenly takes a new turn as an angel from heaven arrives to show him what could have happened had he not been born.
It’s a Wonderful Life takes viewers on a journey of rebirth in spirit, of an awakening that is the prerequisite for a life of happiness and gratitude. The film’s characterization is exceptionally brilliant with every character drawn sharply and fitting tightly in the plot. Both the story and the characterization impart the spirit of sacrifice and love – living for others and giving instead of expecting to receive from them.
James Stewart as George Bailey has delivered yet another immortal performance. Donna Reed as Mary Hatch Bailey and Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Henry F. Potter impress in their respective roles. All the supporting cast too makes their characters feel alive. Fun, tragedy, love, and rebirth all blend together in this film every scene of which is full of emotion; the ending of course carries the climax, which is difficult to watch without letting tears out in appreciation.
It’s a Wonderful Life has been regarded as a film that is inseparable from Christmas. After watching it, one knows it is also inseparable from a life of gratitude and selflessness. It’s a wonderful film about life.