Saturday, 5 December 2015

It's A Wonderful Life

This Frank Capra classic was on television this afternoon.  I usually go and see it every year at the cinema.  For an uplifting Christmas classic, it's actually very dark, all about thwarted ambition and the terrible worry of money.

Made in 1946, and not a hit when it came out, there are lots of  very curious little details that reward seeing it over again - details of the set and of character - and lots of favourite parts.  Here's one, where George offers to lasso the moon for Mary, which will dissolve inside her and come out of her fingers and toes and the ends of her hair.  It's a beautiful image.

Then there is this one, the phone scene.  George has ambitions to leave his home town of Bedford Falls and see the world.  However, he is constantly thwarted. by the death of his father, and obligations to the family firm and the people whose lives rely on that firm.

So here he is, reluctantly visiting Mary, the girl he will marry.  

He wants her, but of course deep down, he knows that this domesticity is yet another thing to tie him down.  

It's a very intense, complex scene, full of tension as they stand close together, and his face touches her hair.  It used to trouble me that he grabs her and shouts at her so violently, but of course that's what the scene is all about, what gives it its edge.  He knows what that smell of her hair means - it means falling in love and staying forever in Bedford Falls, giving up the wonders of the  world.  

It's a tightly cropped, close shot, where Mary literally becomes, instead,  his whole world over the course of a phone call.

There are lots of other lovely, complex parts of the film.  Watch it yourself, if you haven't already.  And if you've seen it already - watch it again.

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