This movie is the epitome of Christmas to me: I’ve watched it once a year for as long as I can remember, I once learned the entire dance in the Charleston scene, I recently named my cat after the protagonist, I always cry from pretty much the first to the last scene, and Jimmy Stuart is my #1 Hollywood crush. So yeah, I dig this film.
However, the thing that sticks out most to me now is the desperate need of the protagonist. Sure, I love the love (always) and the powerful connection that Mary and George have from that first chilling look at the dance, but the most moving aspect of the film is George’s need. After planning is life down to the last tiny detail (“I know what I want to do this year, and the year after that, and the year after that…”) he is frustrated at his inability to achieve that dream, to provide for his (rapidly) growing family, and forced to fall on his knees and acknowledge his desperate dependence (“God, if you are there please help”). At a time of utter helplessness, George Bailey is saved by something outside of himself.
Now that’s the epitome of Christmas.
. . .