Friday, December 19, 2008

The wonders of a pitiful, dreadful life

It's a Wonderful Life
Almost precisely a year to the day after the publication of Other People's Children and Marie Reilly's meditations on the Bailey Building & Loan Association comes Wendell Jamieson's fantastically insightful reexamination of It's a Wonderful Life:
It's a Wonderful Life“It’s a Wonderful Life” is anything but a cheery holiday tale. . . . “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.
I wholeheartedly agree. This year's obligatory viewing of It's a Wonderful Life reminds me that any wise man would swiftly trade all the places, geographic and metaphysical, that he can reach through planes, trains, automobiles, and an Ivy League degree — fifteen countries, four continents, and three languages, if you insist on counting — for devotion worthy of Mary Hatch Bailey and his children's confidence that he really can fix everything complex as well as he can build a rose.

Multimedia bonus: It's a Wonderful Life


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife and I went to see a showing at the IFC in New York last night and enjoyed it a lot. I'd not seen it (or much of it) for about 20 years so didn't remember it well. She'd never seen it (she's from Russia) but said she was quite surprised how much it was like the movies made in the Soviet Union at the same time in terms of aesthetics and sentiment. From the films of that time and place I've seen I'd mostly agree. (That's not a criticism, just an observation.) It is a movie that, if kids understood it, would make them not so eager to grow up. And, the cure for the saccharine stuff about an angel getting its wings can be provided by Jack Handy, who points out that every time a mouse-trap snaps shut, and angel gets set on fire.

12/22/2008 12:51 PM  

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