Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Top Ten Films: Part Two

Is there really a cynic out there that is too hardened to appreciate It’s a Wonderful Life? This is a movie that has been engraved into popular culture. Even people who have never seen the film have seen something else inspired by it. It probably ranks second only to A Christmas Carol in terms of recognized Christmas stories. (Not counting the actual Christmas Story of course.)

How does something made sixty years ago stand the test of time and endure in spite of its obvious hyper-sentimentality? Because it tells a story that deep down every human wants to believe. Everyone wants to know that they count, that their life makes a difference. Ultimately, people have this desire because they were made to fulfill a purpose.

Life exists for a reason. Every life has a purpose. Every person has a role to play. The Story of It’s a Wonderful Life is a reminder that everyone impacts the lives around them. It is the idea at the core of every great epic story. Incidentally, it is a common theme at the heart of nearly all the films found in the top ten Nonmodern films.

One of the best moments of this film, often overlooked, is when George Bailey hits bottom and lashes out at everyone around him. It is easy to forget by the end of the movie, that George is no selfless hero. He has always been forced into the role of saving the town, against his own wishes. His dreams and visions of greatness never worked out, and he eventually caves into despair as normal people often do. He is a very flawed character. This makes the revelations of the differences he has made all the more rewarding in the end.

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