Courtesy of Liberty Films
It's A Wonderful Life is the not only the best Christmas film of all time, it is the best film of all time. This film is personal to me and it has helped me a lot. I remember the first time I watched this film. I was 21 years old and I have heard of It's A Wonderful Life for many years, but I finally decided this was the year to watch it. After I watched the film for the first time, I felt something I haven't felt in a long time. Everything was going to be okay. I suffered through anxiety and panic attacks. If you don't know what that feels like, it feels like you're in hell. This film gave me a sense of hope that I didn't have for a long time. I was crying at the end and I knew from that moment on my life was going to be good.
It's A Wonderful stars Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed. Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, and Henry Travers and it is directed by legendary director Frank Capra. It follows a man named George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) and his life story and how he got to the point of wanting to commit suicide. For most of the film George Bailey does great things for people, but gets nothing in return. It starts when he saves his brother's life and gets an infection that leaves him deaf in his left ear. He gives up his dream of traveling the world to help the family business: Bailey Building and Loan after his father dies. George wants to build things but gives that up to work at the Bailey Building and Loan for the rest of his life. He settles down with love of his life Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) and has three children. He even gives up his honeymoon when the evil Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) called in the bank's loan to the building and loan and causes a run on the bank. George gives up $2,000 of his own money to save the Bailey Building and Loan. George does a lot of sacrificing to help others but feels like he is not appreciated.
The tipping point is on Christmas Eve when Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) loses $8,000 of the company's money. The bank examiner is reviewing the company's records that day and George knows there will be scandal and jail time without the money. George sees no hope and decides to kill himself. Suddenly he sees a man jump in the river and George jumps in to save him. The man is Clarence (Henry Travers), George's guardian angel. He has been sent to Earth because of people praying for George. Clarence shows George what his life would be like if he wasn't born. George sees this nightmare and realizes he wants to live again. George goes home and embraces his kids and Mary. Mary tells George that the town raised money for him because of all the good he did for other people. The ending of the film is the best of all time and makes me cry every time. Ending with "Aud Lang Syne" and the famous line "Look daddy, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings." If that doesn't make you cry, I don't know what will.
Jimmy Stewart gives one of the best performances of all time. I have never seen someone embody a character like Stewart did with George Bailey. This was Stewart's first film after World War II. Stewart suffered from PTSD while making the film and used that to make his performance better. The film reminds us we have good lives even if we don't think we do. George thought his life was terrible because he didn't accomplish his dreams but he did so much for other people. He helped other people when they needed him the most and those same people helped George when he needed them the most.
The film makes you think about your own life and what you have done. It also makes you think what would the world be like if you weren't born. Would things be different for the ones you love? How would your absence impact the world? This film teaches the audience that they are valuable even if they don't think it. The impact this film has left on me is something I can't express into words. It made me think how good my life is. I have a great family and great friends but my anxiety was making it seem like something was wrong. I still struggle sometimes but this film changed my way of thinking so much and has really helped me. Every time I watch the film, I can't help but cry and feel like I am George Bailey. The genius of this film is a lot of us feel like George Bailey. They feel like life is kicking them in the ass and don't feel like they're doing anything good. The reality is we all are doing something good and that we are valuable members of society.
The film also teaches us to live and appreciate every moment we have. It teaches you to be grateful for the life you have. You can always strive for more and that perfectly acceptable, but be happy for the things you have. Always put good out into the universe because one day the good will come back to you. Every Christmas I watch this film and it gets better and better every year I watch it. This is the best Christmas film of all time and the best overall film of all time.
Do you think It's A Wonderful Life is the best Christmas film of all time? Leave it in the comments below.
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