The story of George Bailey has come to a turning point. With $8,000.00 missing from his family’s Building and Loan business, he and his uncle are facing imprisonment. In this most dire time, George can see no hope and contemplates taking his own life in order get the money from a life insurance policy to recover some of the missing money. This is when angels step in and send Clarence to help him.
Maintained in its original black and white format, the story is told in a retrospective and alternate future path. Starting with a present day George, the film takes his story from his current life up until his breaking point. Then his back story is told and in a somewhat clever way. His guardian-angel-to-be is shown George’s past in order to understand him so that he can help him. Afterwards, Clarence is sent to help George and to do so he creates a world where George never existed so that he can see how much he has made a difference. From that the movie returns back to present for its conclusion.
Keep in perspective how long ago this movie was made when evaluating it on a technical level. It makes the best of visual effects available at the time. I give it credit for looking more realistic and warm than some more modern films. Besides, the real heart of the movie is the story.
This is one of the ultimate stories of self redemption. For a man to over look how much he has done in life is all too easy and this movie aims to remind us of that. It also serves as a reminder of the brotherhood we share with our fellow man. How we can turn on each other is shown as well.
This film has been served by a double-edged sword for years. Some refuse to watch it simply because it is so regarded. That to me that is like not eating lobster because it is too delicious. Part of what soured people was the movie being over played for years until all the major television broadcasters all agreed to have it only play once a year on one network. Now, I feel, it is under played and too easily missed by the general public.
Take the time to find out when this is on every holiday season. I purchased this on DVD years ago just so I could watch it on my own schedule. You can pick this up from Amazon for about $10.
This movie really does remind us of the spirit we should share with each other. Even tough it is centered on Christmas, these are lessons we should remember and abide to year round.