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Yes, it really *IS* a wonderful life

My wife emailed me this: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/movies/19wond.html?emc=eta1

Here’s the  summary:

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams. Was this what adulthood promised?”

I doubt that there’s a human being on the planet who hasn’t seen this movie, with the possible exception of a few tribal groups deep in the Amazon.  The author of this review puts a completely selfish and cyincal spin on the story.  He goes on at length about how horrifying the movie was to him at 15, much fun the town looks like after it’s degenerated into Pottersville, and the empty look in the eyes of Ernie the cabbie as he drives George around the changed town.  He also points out that at a couple of times in George’s life, he lashes out at those closest to him.

This was once of the most self-centered, small-minded articles I’ve ever read.  I’m horrified.  The point of the movie is that when we sacrifice our own desires to a greater good, the rewards are worth the  price, even if they’re something we take for granted.  George subordinated his wanderlust for the sake of his family and his town, and he did it of his own free will.  Yeah, he chaffed at it, and it turned into rage at a couple of the lowest points in his life (primarily so that the character would be more interesting), but then he sucked it up and “did the right thing”.

As for how much “fun” Potterville looked like, and the blank look on Ernie’s face, they’re one and the same;  all the vice and glamour was nothing but a facade for the empty misery of life in a town without values.

That was once of the most selfish, self-centered, small-minded articles I’ve ever read.  I’m horrified.

The point of the movie is that when we sacrifice our own desires to a greater good, the rewards are worth the  price, even if they’re something we take for granted.  George subordinated his wanderlust for the sake of his family and his town, and he did it of his own free will.  Yeah, he chaffed at it, and it turned into rage at a couple of the lowest points in his life, primarily so that the character would be more interesting; we need to know that he’s chaffing and that the dreams of the young man have never been forgotten.  But then he always sucked it up to Do The Right  Thing.

As for how much “fun” Potterville looked like, and the blank look on Ernie’s face, they’re one and the same;  all the vice and glamour was nothing but a facade for the empty misery of life in a town without values.

The character of George represent every family man in the world; I saw my father in him the first time I saw this movie, and I’m usually pretty dense about these sorts of things.  I’m truly stunned that a writer who has a son of his own hasn’t figured this out. 

This author is an example of a generation that never seems to stop harping on how we “change the world”, and he works for a newspaper that’s relentless in it’s desire to see the government used to FORCE people to do what it sees as the right thing, and yet he can’t seem to understand the moral in a trite little movie about personal sacrifice, or the nobility of an “ordinary life”.

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