Saturday, 30 June 2012

It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life is an aspiring movie examined the worth of a single man’s life, it’s dark and bright, full of passion, despair and joy. It's a little too sweet sometimes - but it has moments that can surprise you even after you’ve seen it dozens of times you watch it.

The stories evolve around George Bailey, an ordinary kind of fella who thinks he's never accomplished anything in life. His dreams of becoming a famous architect, of traveling the world and living adventurously, have not been fulfilled. Instead, he feels trapped in a humdrum job in a small town. His fate binds him to Bedford Falls and the humdrum business of making loans so working people can afford to buy modest houses. And when faced with a crisis in which he feels he has failed everyone, he breaks under the strain and flees to the bridge in the chilling snow.

George who was going to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge, but was stopped when someone happened by and struck up a conversation with him.The mysterious person eventually learns that George wishes he’d never been born and grants George his wish.

The mysterious ma takes him back through his life to show to him what his community would be like without him. George soon discovers that no one he knows recognizes him and that many of the people he’d known were worse off in their lives because he had never existed.  Most prominent among these was his little brother who had drowned because he had not been there to save him.

The mysterious man reveal to be an angel to shows how George Bailey's loyalty to the job at the building and loan office has saved families and homes, how his little kindnesses have changed the lives of others, and how the ripples of his action will spread through helping make world a better place.  George eventually gets the angel to change everything back to the way it was and is now glad to be alive.
After George prays in tears for the opportunity to live again, he awakes back in reality among his loved ones. Even though he is still on the brink of personal disaster, George finally comes to grips with the beauty of his life and he chooses to welcome his destiny, whatever it might be. In the end, it’s not an angel who saves George Bailey, but his family and friends.

It is amazing to think how our ordinary everyday efforts sometimes touch others. 

This movie was based on a “Christmas Card” Short Story by Philip Van Doren Stern, which was originally sent out to around 200 of Stern’s friends and family in December of 1943.

The short story was inspired by a dream Stern had one night in the 1930s. Stern, already an accomplished author at this point, albeit a historical author, then proceeded to write the 4,000 word short story Stern initially sought to find a publisher for his short, 21 page story, but failed in this endeavour, so decided to make a “Christmas Card” style gift out of it and printed 200 copies which he sent out to friends and family in December of 1943.  

This ended up being a gift that gave back, as the work eventually found its way into the hands of producer subsequently adapted the story further and ultimately made it into it’s a Wonderful Life, which debuted in 1946.

What make it more Interesting, the character of George Bailey was actually based partly on the founder of Bank of America. When A.P. Giannini join the Columbus Savings & Loan Society, which was a small bank in North Beach, California. He found that almost nobody at the Savings & Loan, nor other banks, were willing to give loans to anyone but the rich or those owning businesses. 

At first, Giannini attempted to convince the other directors at the Savings & Loan to start lending to working class citizens, to give them home and auto loans, among other things.  He felt that working class citizens, though lacking in assets to guarantee the loan against, were generally honest and would pay back their loans when they could.  Further, by loaning them money, it would allow working class citizens to better themselves in ways they would not have been able to do without the money lent to them, such as being able to buy a home or to start a new business. He was never able to convince the other directors to begin lending to the working class. So he raised funds to start his own bank, the Bank of Italy, which later became the Bank of America.

He then made a practice of not offering loans based on how much money or equity a person had, but based primarily on how he judged their character. By the middle of the 1920s, it had become the third largest bank in the United States. Much like the fictitious George Bailey, Giannini kept little for himself through all this.

In is amazing both Stern & Giannini shows the smallest contributions in it own way end up being the most significant ones.

If you watch this movie and, somehow, don’t warm to it then at least take away one of the important lessons it contains: “No man is a failure who has friends”. Keep that in mind and perhaps you can strive to amass the riches that George Bailey has in his life, even when he doesn’t realise it.

Note: Wonder how my life touch others?

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