America’s classic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life turns 70 this year. It’s aged gracefully like a fine wine, but it’s not without its detractors. For some, the revered film is a sort of political prop to suck all the fun out of Christmas.
The plot is based on Phillip Van Doren Stern’s short story, “The Greatest Gift.” It follows the life of George Bailey, who is ingeniously played by James Stewart in the film. Bailey is a dreamer who just wants shake “the dust of this crummy little town off [his] feet and…see the world.” That crummy little town is Bedford Falls. With the help of Clarence Oddbody, Angel Second Class, George comes to realize just how much the people of Bedford Falls rely on his compassionate contributions to the town’s livelihood. He truly is the richest man in town.
Small-town Americana is a trigger for the left. Strong family structures and localized economies just aren’t their thing. Some even claim that Mr. Potter–the film’s villain, a wealthy miser who tries to snap up most of the businesses in Bedford Falls–should have been the hero! After all, how on earth could George Bailey not buy into Mr. Potter’s progressive utopia?
This is not the only criticism, of course. They also talk about its alleged atheistic, communist agenda, or how the movie is actually too dark for Christmas. Some have claimed that it is really a metaphor for the crony capitalist oppression to which America eventually succumbed.
Maybe I’m biased because it’s my favorite movie, but I think It’s a Wonderful Life is actually about the redemption of a man who’s forgotten, or perhaps never realized, what makes life, well, wonderful. It’s not about the glamour and glitz; rather, it’s about the people in your community, the God you serve, and the difference you make. Underneath George Bailey’s epic journey, we get a glimpse of small town America where the local community is strong. And that’s what conservatism is all about.
As this turbulent year draws to a close, I hope this film gives you and yours a renewed sense of hope for mankind and love for your neighbors.