Friday, December 30, 2016

A few random thoughts on "It's a Wonderful Life" // And a Happy New Year to you!

My family watches It's a Wonderful Life every year around Christmas.  I've seen it so many times now you'd think there wouldn't be anything new to discover; however, that is not the case.  There were several things which stood out to me this time around, which I'd never really noticed before.  Or perhaps I had noticed them, but just happened to appreciate them in a different way this time.

One thing I find so cool about this movie is the emphasis that's placed on the value of life.  Of people as individuals.  Just plain, ordinary, every day people.  The way they relate to one another and care for one another.  And how each person makes such a huge difference in the lives of those around them.

Right.  So now I shall proceed to toss some of my random thoughts at you.  I give no guarantee that this post will  have any sort of rhyme or reason to it, so be prepared for mindless rambling. 

First off, this scene.  Ohhh.  I love this scene!  It's hilarious and at the same time so jam-packed with emotion.  Here's George, grumpy as all get out, and Mary just bursting with suppressed hopes that here at last might be the moment when her childhood dream is realized.  (She's loved George since she was a kid, you see, and now he's come to call on her, and boy! she's not letting the opportunity slip by her.) 

What really stood out to me this time is how very much Mary loves George.  I mean, it's pretty obvious, and I knew that before, but for some reason it really hit me this time.  She's doing everything she can to get his attention in this scene and he rebuffs her every single time.  ("Some joke, huh?")  But when she finally loses her cool and tells him to leave, and he storms out of the house, she doesn't go and break that record because she's mad at George, she breaks it because she's so disappointed that things aren't working between them.  She still loves him.

And a few minutes later,  when she's talking on the phone to Sam Wainwright, and George comes stumping back in looking for his hat, she immediately perks up and makes one last desperate attempt to attract his attention by acting all excited to be talking to Sam.  And it works, people.  They're engaged by the end of the scene. Really, I just love how Mary is so in love with George...even when he's grumpy...and rude.  Everyone of us ought to have someone who loves us like that.  Someone who will love us despite all our quirks.  And just go on loving us, no matter what.

This movie has so many good examples of people who care about others more than themselves.  This comes across pretty strongly in the scene where George unleashes all his pent-up frustrations onto his family; when he yells at the kids, and begins smashing things in the house.  It's absolute mayhem, and the family is shocked and hurt to see him acting this way.  But then, when he finally walks out the door what do they do?  What does his wife do? 

Does she go and cry angry tears in a corner that her husband could be so unkind and unreasonable?  Does she stand on the moral high ground and nurse feelings of ill-usage?  No.  She goes immediately to the telephone in order to find out what kind of trouble her husband is in.  And the kids?  Are they sitting in pitiful little bundles, feeling sorry for themselves?  No.  Their first thought is for their father, and him alone.  "Is Daddy in trouble?"  "Yes," replies the mother.  "Should I pray for him?"  "Yes, pray very hard." 

They're concerned for him, not themselves.  And that's where, in my opinion, this movie takes a step way beyond your average Hollywood movie, because more often than not in a typical movie this sort of situation would be the fuel for igniting that huffy, "poor me" attitude in the offended party.  But in this movie everything else is forgotten in that one deep-rooted desire to make sure "Daddy is okay."

Another thought about this scene (and unfortunately the picture is really blurry, so sorry about that, but it's the best I could find).  The object in the foreground is the object that George kicks over in his fury.  I'd never really noticed it before.  But look at it, people.  It's a model bridge.  This is clearly the section of the house where George is able to create, on a small scale, those bridges and skyscrapers he never got to create in real life.  Those dreams he had of building and traveling and creating.  He'd missed all of it.  And now at this low point in his life the bitterness of what he's missed out on is coming to the surface again and he can't help but take his frustrations out on those objects which bring the remembrance of it so glaringly before him. 

I'd never realized all that was going on in this scene before.  And watching it this time my heart just broke for George.  He's such a caring, unselfish individual.  Time after time he's given up what he's wanted in order to fill the needs of someone else.  And now life has thrown another bombshell at him, through no fault of his own.   And it's just not fair, right?

It's true that living for others is not easy.  And yet, as George learns by the end of the film, such a life reaps a reward far beyond anything we could ever imagine.

Going off of the above paragraph, I just want to say something more about dreams.  Because in this day and age I feel like we're infatuated with dreams.  "Pursue your dreams."  "You can be anything you want to be."  You've heard it before, right?  But what if your dreams don't come true?  What if, despite all your efforts, you never accomplish those things you've set your heart on?  What if in the end your life is nothing but a simple average life, with nothing much to speak of?  Has it all been in vain?  Are you a failure? 

By no means!

George may have been a failure in regards to worldly success, but in regards to what really matters he was enormously successful.   

After all, our goal in life should never be about pursuing our dreams, our plans...but about pursuing the dreams and plans of our Creator.  To do what He has called us to do.  That's not to say, of course, that we shouldn't have dreams, because God Himself gives us dreams and He wants us to pursue them.   But first and foremost our focus must be on Him, and then everything else will fall into place. 

And don't ever measure yourself by the world's standard of success, because the world doesn't have anything on God's measuring stick.  The world wants big impressive, note-worthy stories.  But more often than not it's the little things in life that bring about the true success.  The caring smile given to a stranger on the street; the hug of encouragement to a friend; the money you barely have enough of, but still manage to be able to share with someone in need.  Your life may not be anything spectacular in the eyes of most people, but if God's blessing is upon it you can be sure it will be wonderful. 

There's a new year just around the corner.  Why not live it with a focus on others rather than ourselves?  Let's forget about our dreams for a moment, and look around at all the people surrounding us.  Let's see the beauty in each one of their faces; the way they smile, the way they laugh.  Let's note the worth of that stranger sitting across the room from us, or that friend/family member who knows exactly how to get on our nerves every single time.  And let's remember that, no matter who they are, God loves each one of them with a deep, unfathomable love. 

Let's be like Him.  Let's love them, too.

Happy New Year!


  1. Agh, I love this movie so much!

    It just breaks my heart... the way George ALWAYS gives up his dreams for his father, his brother, his family, his town. Frustrating, and sooooo sweet. :)

    I hadn't thought of thgthge fact that George was the one who built the bridge... I thought it was Tommy's. But that makes so much more sense, now that you point it out.

    Wow, yes! They were so unselfish. I totally would've been feeling bad for myself if I was treated the way George treats his family.

    Lovely post, dear! We are twinning. :)

    1. Oh! ME, TOO! :)

      I know right? Poor George. It is frustrating how he never gets to do the things he wants to do. I love how unselfish he is through all the disappointments, though. It's amazing how he continually picks himself up and keeps going.

      Yeah, I'd never thought of that before either. It's funny how you can notice new things even in a movie you've seen like a gazillion times. ;)

      It's so refreshing to watch a movie that has unselfish characters, isn't it?

      Thanks, Kate! Oh, we totally are!! :)

    2. Simply agonizing! Especially for someone as driven and "chase down them dreams" as me... Actually that movie always reminds me of my dad. His dream was to write books, and then to be a teacher and missionary in Peru with his family - he gave it all up for my mom. It breaks my heart but is simultaneously very sweet. :)

    3. Hey, that's interesting. My dad always wanted to write books, too. That hasn't happened yet, but he still talks about it sometimes, and I wouldn't be surprised if he actually did it one day. :)

    4. What an interesting coincidence! I guess that's where we both got our writerly genes, huh? Oh, me, either! They can do it!

    5. Oh, more than likely, I'd say. :) Hear, hear! (Dads, are you listening to this? ;))

  2. This movie. Hearts. :)

    My family watches it annually as well, and like you I find something new every time.

    I love your observations. :) It's so true that George(and the rest of his family) was a remarkably humble character.

    And that scene at Mary's house is soo nice. It's a bit frustrating because clearly they were meant for each other and George doesn't acknowledge it at first, but it's also funny ("must be some sort of joke" xD), and adorable. :)

    Good post!

    1. Yes, indeed. <3 <3

      I know! Isn't it incredible how many layers there are to some movies? And how you can just keep discovering new things about them? That's my idea of a really good movie. :)

      Oh, yes, remarkably humble. Well put. :)

      Yeah. It's like, "Come on, George, what's your problem?" Haha. He's pretty adorable, though, even when he's grumpy. ;)

      Thanks, Meredith! And thank you SO much for your comment! I loved hearing from you. :)

  3. "Why not live it with a focus on others rather than ourselves?" YES. The world is sooo self-oriented and I just want to say, 'NO DUDE. THINK OF OTHERS. YOURSELF IS THE LEAST IMPORTANT.'
    Yeah, 2017 GOAL for me, too. Love this and you. x

    1. You said it!

      Aww, thank you, Naomi! Love you, too! :)

  4. First off, your opening thoughts about the movie are SPOT ON. Love it. :D

    I knoooooow. She loves him so much, and it's simply beautiful and adorable. I mean, that's true love, right? Loving someone even when they're acting all grumpy and mean. She still loves him in that scene, AND she loves him when he's acting the same way (but far worse) in the scene where he "tortures the children". She knows that underneath his moods and "bad" moments, he's still a good man and encourages him to be that man.

    "But in this movie everything else is forgotten in that one deep-rooted desire to make sure "Daddy is okay."" I never really realized what you said about that scene before. Now that you're making me think about it, I do think IaWL is one of the best movies that promotes "unselfish" behavior--without being preachy! It's so natural and tightly woven into the story, but the message is there, for us to take to heart without even realizing it.

    "George may have been a failure in regards to worldly success, but in regards to what really matters he was enormously successful."
    "Your life may not be anything spectacular in the eyes of most people, but if God's blessing is upon it you can be sure it will be wonderful."

    LOVE IT. I love dreams and the idea of pursuing them, but at the same time, I hate how this world puts so much pressure on people to be doing something "spectacular". Raising a family or putting others before yourself aren't seen as spectacular deeds, but in IsWL, we clearly see they are.

    Also, your words about all that reminded me of Billy. ;)

    YES. I want 2017 to be like that, too. <3 Thank you for encouraging and inspiring me, Miss March. :)

    1. :D

      Yes, yes, yes!! "She knows that underneath his moods and "bad" moments, he's still a good man and encourages him to be that man." Exactly! Well put. Mary's an awesome character, isn't she? :)

      Wow. Well put again. And you're so right. This movie really does do an excellent job of showing how to live an unselfish life...but without getting preachy about it. (Which, by the way, is something I really appreciate, because preachy-ness in movies can really get under my skin. Depending on how it's done, of course.)

      Yes, indeed. Dreams are wonderful things to have. (I probably have more dreams than I realize. :)) But you're right, too, when the world starts putting pressure on people to do what it considers to be "spectacular," that's when the whole dream thing goes wrong. Because what does the world know about it all anyway? I mean, really?

      Aww. YOU MENTIONED BILLY! Need I say it? That made me really happy! :)

      I'm so glad this was an encouragement and inspiration to you, Natalie. It was for me, too, actually. I went away from it saying to myself, "Well, if no one else gets anything out of this post, it was still worth writing, because I know I needed to hear some of that." ;) Thank you so much for your comment, dear. <3

    2. Mary is a WONDERFUL characters. (Hah. See what I did there?)

      You said it! The world knows nothing. :P

      Our characters ALWAYS make us happy. (Well. Maybe not ALWAYS...)

      Aww, good! And yes, indeed. Even if your writing only makes yourself happy and encouraged, it's still a very good thing. :D

    3. Haha. Very clever, my dear. ;)


      Heh. Yeah. Like when they won't lend themselves to being put down on paper? Most aggravating indeed. ;P

      True. I need to remind myself of that more often. :)

  5. This was so beautiful, Miss March. Good commentaries on good movies are the best.:) And that's so true--what you said about the world's standards. God's standards are more real than those, if you know what I mean. I'm going to echo Natalie and say thank you for encouraging me, dear.:)

    ~Rilla Blythe

    1. Thank you so much, Rilla! I'm glad this encouraged you. :) And now you've encouraged me, too. Thank you for your comment. It was just what I needed today! :)

  6. I saw "It's a Wonderful Life" for the first time last Christmas (in 2015)... some parts were a little odd, I felt, but the parts with him and his family really did melt me. I loved what you brought out about it, and the point you drove home. I 100% agree!! Thanks for writing this. :)

    ~Miss Meg

    1. Now I'm curious. Which parts did you think were odd? I know there are some people who think the whole angel thing is a bit weird. Which it is kind of, depending on how you look at it. :)

      Oh, I'm glad you agree! And you're most welcome! Thank YOU for your comment! :)

    2. Yeah, the angel part thing. ;) (My family agreed. It was just... weird. :P)

      ~Miss Meg

    3. Haha. Thought it might be that. ;) And I can totally understand why it would strike some people as weird. I mean, it is weird, taken from a realistic stand point. ;)

      ~Miss March