Merry Christmas and welcome to another special film review! Hope you all have had a great year in 2014 and are ready for 2015; it’s going to be a good one! Hover-boards, inside-out clothes, hydrating pizzas and a great line-up of films. Once again I feel I should warn you about spoilers, but who hasn’t seen this film!? Come on!
The ‘hot-dog’ classic, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE! Frank Capra’s story about a man named George Bailey who is unaware of how much he has affected his friends, family and the people in the small town of Bedford Falls. He is so oblivious, after all his dreams and ambitions have been shattered, that he contemplates killing himself thinking everyone would have been better off without him. Because of this serious situation and all the prayers from his friends/family for him, an angel named Clarence is sent down to help George in his time of need. Every tender life lesson is wrapped into this one film: no man is a failure who has friends, one life can affect so many others, love is the answer, money doesn’t make you happy, and other lessons too like don’t fall into ice water, don’t mistake poison for medicine, and don’t put all your money in the villain’s newspaper!
The family and I booked a movie deal at the Ship Inn in Irvine, which included a two-course meal before seeing the film at the Harbour Arts Centre (HAC) across the way. The Ship Inn is probably one of my favourite restaurants and if you’re ever in the local area, I definitely would recommend it; the service is great, the food is delicious (I always go for the haggis, neeps and tatties with whisky sauce myself) and the rustic aesthetic of the place is really nice. We went over to the HAC and got seated. It’s quite a small theatre but the projector screen was big in comparison, and we were in the centre front row seats so we had a great view. If I had to moan about anything – the seats got uncomfortable after a while into the film and the volume could have been turned up a tiny bit, but apart from that it was good. Everyone was handed a big bag of Butterkist sweet popcorn, which was really nice of the Ship Inn, but for the first 10 minutes of the film we were all the ‘Pics Pricks’; rustling and popping and eating the popcorn.
This film most certainly pays tribute to the brilliant acting and charm of James Stewart; he did a superb job in the film Harvey, but this is by far his most popular piece of work. I have seen this film many times, and it’s probably up there as one of the top films I cry at every time – right next to Schindler’s List, To Kill A Mockingbird and The Lion King. At the start when George doesn’t deliver the medicine because poison was added accidentally, and at end when George is named “the richest man in town”. Gets me every time! I also love the character, Henry F. Potter; he’s probably the best baddy in any Christmas film. He’s introduced as being “the richest and meanest man in the county”; that’s about as extreme as the negative criticism gets in this film, and he really is a rotten old sod. At least Scrooge and the Grinch discover redemption, but Mr Potter relishes his cold-heartedness, his money and doesn’t care for anyone but himself; he’s the one that plants the idea in George’s mind that he’s better dead than alive! But George triumphs in the end. I’ve often wondered what Mr Potter’s reaction would have been at the end, but I actually really like that Mr Potter doesn’t appear again when George is reunited with his friends; it is almost like Mr Potter has been defeated once and for all, and there is no thought to him whatsoever. Obviously with all films it depends on your point of view, and what films you are interested in. If you’re only into 12-rated films (or above) like Die Hard, Gremlins, or Scrooged, then the U-rated innocence and sentimental charm in this film might not be your cup of Red Bull. And some of you might think that Pottersville actually looks like a ‘no bad’ place with the neon bars, amusements and nightclubs. But in this hellish reality, the focus is drawn to George’s friends and family who are miserable, corrupt or dead because George wasn’t there to ‘save’ them.
It was the original black and white version of the film that we went to see at the HAC but for you RGB fans, there is a re-mastered version in glorious colour available to buy for Blu-ray and DVD. Even if you want to stick with the nostalgic black and white version, I recommend you watch the coloured version just to see it in a fresh coat of paint and appreciate the craftsmanship that went into colouring each individual frame of the entire film. It’s a beautiful film in either version, so it’s up to you! Last year there was a rumour of plans to create a sequel focusing on George Bailey’s grandson, and aiming to release in Christmas 2015. I haven’t heard any more news about it recently and I hope not to. Learn to leave perfectly good films alone, Hollywood! I can’t be the only one to think this, especially with It’s a Wonderful Life!
The Ship Inn has always been a brilliant restaurant, and the Harbour Arts Centre was great apart from the uncomfortable seats and the film being slightly quiet. It’s a Wonderful Life warms the cockles of your heart through it’s humour, charm, jollity and just when you empathise with George in his sorrow, you will rejoice with tears of joy when he is surrounded by all of his loved ones, singing Auld Lang Syne and a bell rings, indicating that Clarence succeeded and got his wings. It is one of the most universally loved films ever made.
I think this is such a popular film because I think we’d all ideally want to be like George Bailey; think less about money or personal gain and more about the people around us. This film serves as a reminder that the littlest act of kindness can affect a person in ways you may not imagine. Which is why I pray for all the people around the world who have to go through hardships on regularly basis or even suddenly. On the 22nd (three days before Christmas), there was an accident in George Square, Glasgow where six people were killed and several injured. My heart goes out to all those who died or were affected by this terrible event, but also to those who helped any way they could and who showed their condolences. There is a slogan which was introduced during the 2014 Commonwealth Games saying “PEOPLE MAKE GLASGOW”, and I believe this stands out more than ever after this tragic event and is good to know there are people out there like George Bailey. Thank you for reading this, God bless and hope you all had a great Christmas and have a Happy New Year.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: 10/10
HARBOUR ARTS CENTRE: 6/10
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