Friday, November 27, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life

Hi folks!

I know this is a departure from my normal posts, but please read on. Seeing as there are no new super cute pics of Ava, I am not sure how I will be able to hold your attention, but here goes. This is an assignment for my Masters class. It is a mini critique of It's a Wonderful Life. Please give me feedback, as that is also part of my assignment. THANKS A MILLION!!!

There are many reasons that It's a Wonderful Life has become a classic. However, due to space and limited attention spans, I will not go into all of them here. Primarily, the film tells a touching and relatable story. It is about a man who, imperfect at times, significantly touches the lives of those around him. From the desperate prayers at the beginning of the film that psychologically call us to attention, we root for George Bailey in an almost primal way. We are reminded throughout the film how this ordinary boy puts aside his own ambitions to help those around him. In the end, he learns that although his life does not turn out how he had planned, he has been truly blessed.

George Bailey is a character that most of us can relate to. Tired of small town life and chocked full of ambition, he desperately tries to escape Bedford Falls. Most adults can think back to a time when we also went through this same period in our lives. Whether we wanted to travel the world like George or grow up to be a veterinarian, there was time in our lives when anything was possible. We all started out as dreamers, like George. Besides violence and death, the idea of a "Dream Deferred" as Langston Hughes puts it, might just be one of our biggest fears. So, from the moment we know that George is a dreamer, we feel disappointment and regret whenever there are obstacles that distance him from his dreams. It is this tension that draws us into the movie and grips us. As the movie end, we soon realize that tension slip away as George recognizes all the good things that have come into his life because he didn't pursue his dream.

The audience knows, just like George comes to understand, that our values change in life. We understand that those things that may appear to be hindrances in our lives are really the things that make life worth living. True, George may have had to set aside his boyhood aspirations, but it was all worth it in the end. The film charges us to believe that the little things in life matter the most. It also challenges our fear of unfulfilled dreams. Is is really so scary to set aside the childhood fantasies that we once held onto so tightly? It is really so horrible to grow up and be the one thing we said we would never be? George Bailey thought he would never marry, but found out in the end that it was his wife who gave him him all the good things in his life. It is ok to grow and change. We're human. We're still learning. So instead of living in fear of what you will not do or what you will not be, look around and see how life have given you exactly what you needed to be happy.


melissa paluzzi said...

Lizzie, I totally agree with your critique of "It's a Wonderful Life"! Your writing style is smooth and easy to read.

I'd say you're pretty insightful:)

Stan & Jess said...

sure. that's true. What were we suppose to do again? Just comment? Then "hot dog, wish I had a million dollars!" And besides all that, it's were Bert & Ernie come from!

Heidi said...

Your critique reminds me of what I used to say the problem was with our generation...X. With people telling us we could be whatever we wanted to be when we grew up, it almost made it too difficult to decide because then we'd be giving up everything else. We didn't want to make a mistake that would cost us our life's happiness. What we really needed was a Clarence to tell us what life is really all about, that "no man is a failure who has friends" so try to make other people's lives easier to live and remember that life can be found in the smallest details. Thanks for reminding me Lizzie.

misskatiez said...

I think the fact that we are still watching it (and lining up for blocks to watch it when it comes back to movie theatres) shows how true the meaning of the story is this many years later. I watched it at the Tivoli theatre in DG a few years ago (an AWESOME old movie theatre) and was really upset that I had to leave for work when George discovered he didn't exist.

RebeccaAnn said...

I love this movie, which has become of my annual Holiday celebrations regardless of whether anyone else joins me in watcing! You are right. The movie calls up themes of lives unlived, dreams unrealized, only to shine a light on the fact that we are rich when we serve, successful when we have friends and family and always infinitely more powerful than we ever realize. Thanks to your critique I may watch it again this weekend! Its message is timeless and endlessly endearing for everyone who struggles with the multiple choice questions and challenges of life! Great Job, Lizzy!!!

Diana Hulstedt said...

Hi Lizzie,

I love this movie, but here is the reason why... George Bailey gets to see what impact he makes. I hope I am not alone in this thinking, but I have thought, at low times in my life, "if I hadn't been born, everyone would be better without me." We do not realize the "ripple" effect in our life. Throw a stone in pond and watch the ripples... similar to our "stone (or life)." I think it is an awesome thought provoker that also encourages us to keep "rippling" in our short span of life, even if life doesn't go the way we expect. Hope this helps.

Love, Aunt Diana

Andrea said...

Hi Lizzie,
I can remember the first time I saw this movie when I was teenager back in early 70's. I felt like I had just found a undiscovered gem and I proceeded to tell everyone about this cool movie that they just HAD to see.

It's a Wonderful Life has been the movie that reminds me each year that the holidays are here! It also gives me my annual reminder of how precious the day to day events of our lives we are.

You have helped to remind me that it's our perception of those day to day events that defines how we "see" our lives. The loose finial on the railing was the same loose finial in both scenes with George. It one scene it served to remind him how much his life lacked and in the second it scene it served to remind him how much he loved his flawed but wonderful life.

Thank You Lizzie for showing me yet another way to look at this old favorite! Great Job!

Jodi Hulstedt said...

I enjoyed your critique of this movie and reading all the posts. Your observations about having dreams that are not actualized was interesting and made me think more about how George Bailey appeared to grow more and more bitter as he had to sacrifice the things he wanted. How easy that can happen to any of us if we are not being others focused. What is interesting though is that George would always make a choice that helped another person. It's like he had a dualism inside himself of wanting to fulfill his own dreams, but also wanting to be others centered. How often do we struggle with this same thing of wanting to meet our own needs but then knowing there is a higher road to travel. I can relate. Thanks for including us in on your assignment Lizzie.

sue ellen said...

I too love this movie and I am glad you chose this one to critique. The reason I liked this movie is it is a wonderful reminder to me how our lives do affect those around us that we come in contact with, for the good and for the bad and there are times that we don't even realize it. To me it is like the idea of passing a good deed forward. Also it was a reminder to me that life can be wonderful when we spend it doing things for others,it may be just a kind word or a smile or something bigger to enrich their lives and one of the greatest Blessings in life that we have is family and friends. Thanks Lizzie Sue

Rebecca said...

At the end of the movie, of course I am in tears, totally moved that George comes around. But, still I feel sad for George that he struggled so much with fulfilling his dreams. I think the real challenge in life is finding the balance between the ordinary and our dreams. It takes creativity and work to make life work well. Perhaps Proverbs 13:12 says it best when it says that "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." I guess deep down I hope that George doesn't go the rest of his life heartsick, but that he packs up his wife and kids and takes them to see the world, even if it's just the town over! I hope he learns, just like I want to learn, how to make his ordinary life a little more dream-like.

lisa d said...

This is an appropriate topic for me this weekend. I have spent some time with my family, and processed the many emotions of the family that has left our daily lives to another existance. I have also spent some time with friends that I grew up with and experienced life at a early and naive age. An age where I was discovering what my dreams were. I think back to the days my friends spent together listening to music, experiencing life in big cities, earning degrees, becoming better and developing thoughts of how we would make the world a better place. My life now is different now than I thought it would be, different, but good. I love my family, my house, my job (usually), I love helping people and myself. I owe this life to the way I was raised by my family and the friends that I have made. I can remember not loving history as a student, now as I mature I see the importance of our past. I believe our needs and dreams change with the changes we are dealt. In the end we find resolve and recognize the good.
I think that is what this movie helps us do and why we love it. We identify with Bailey and are comforted by the "normal" and common feelings we share with him. It is a wonderful life after all.