Sunday, December 23, 2007
scenes from a movie
I did not see It’s a Wonderful Life until I was a working woman in my 30s in New York City. I was actually a little shocked at the story and initially vaguely disappointed. Why? Because it seemed tragic that George Bailey never got out of Dodge to be the architect he wanted to be. While most cheered the superdad and heroic businessman, I related to the frustrated artist.
He’s got dreams, visions and they're never going to happen. Yet no one seems to care about those, but more about whatever he can do for them that day or year.
By now certain scenes are emblazoned into my mind. That pivotal moment at the train station when he is told that his brother has married – the slightly out of focus lens pans around him as his dreams come crashing down. You can read it all in his eyes. It is a terrible, awesome moment.
People get offended if you look at the film in this way. They see it as a sweet family movie. If you are not seeing the pain George feels when he sweeps away those architectural models, then you are missing a key ingredient in this film. It is this which leads him to the bridge to contemplate suicide, not just the lack of money.
Most of my favorite scenes are truly that – just set design. The streets in snow, the starry sky from which Clarence comes, the honky-tonk Pottersville at night, the pharmacy, the architectural models swept away in his breakdown, the crashed car, the graveyard, the savings and loan, the raven – and most of all, the bridge where he contemplates taking his life.
Someday I want to make a body of work around it; I don’t know whether it will be photomontage or painting. Of course photography is more to the point, but a limited palette in paint is actually interesting, and so is architecture.
at 2:55 PM