8
Dec 04

THE ADVENT CALENDAR OF CHRISTMAS FILMS 8: It’s A Wonderful Life

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Come on, did you really think this would not make the list? (I tried my hardest to veto it out of contrarianism…) Does this need to be a Christmas film at all? The plot would work at any time of the year. That said, the Christmas setting does pour an extra dollop of syrup on what is already a pretty over sweetened affair. It is not a film about Christmas, the date is irrelevant; except to illustrate what dire straits George is in, and to provide a nicely overblown family friendly finale.

That said the film should be applauded for highlighting one of the more depressing sides of Christmas: the suicide rate. Christmas is not joy for everyone. It can bring out the stresses and strains of unhappy family life, isolate the individual and with the roller-coaster ride of expectation coupled with the post-turkey arguments it can be a killer. It’s A Wonderful Life may have a vaguely ironic title, and one which may stick in the craw of the depressed this time of year, but you do get the feeling George is going to commit suicide pre-intervention. Unfortunately Clarences, no matter how inept, do not really exist so maybe we have to take that role ourselves. Maybe it is only a Christmas film for bathetic reasons, but the dark underbelly of the scenario is surprisingly apt. Forget the ending, think ‘pon the beginning.

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