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.




13 comments:

m-c dude from the aether said...

My favorite holiday story is "Zorba the Greek." Some meet up with Clarence, others meet up with Zorba. I had the good fortune of hangin' out with Zorba for five years in probably the most unlikely place you could imagine on this ol' marble. And I learned what good ol' Emerson instucted: I am not here to work, but to worked upon.

Now, Zorba is everywhere I happen to be. Thank you my Zorba, and I wish blessings of joy and unbridled, unfettered access to the invisible abundance and happiness that is available at all moments ... consider what is available first and what is missing last, and you'll be dancing with Zorba too, for Zorba never, ever refuses a dance...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndPJRh_K2yc#

m-c dude from the aether said...

A slight redo on the Emerson instruction: I am here not to work but to be worked upon

Jim said...

Eva,

How are you?

I was a bit taken aback by the Movie's implication that if George Bailey had not married the Donna Reed character she would have become (gasp!) an "old maid"! Working in a library, no less. Wearing glasses. The horror!

Anonymous said...

I know Jim! What about that marriage proposal from that guy in plastics and ground floors? :)
E

Anonymous said...

Last night my friend came over and gave me the DVD for X. And then we watched it. Gloria Graham - you could make an entire exhibition/ case study around her charachter alone...

I saw how difficult it would be to take on the project I have in mind. Paint and photography compete with each other; each does something the other cannot. But how can either compete with Capra? I would up against perfection...
E

PS man-child, it has been many years since I have seen Zorba. I guess it is time for another visit.

Carolyn said...

Merry Christmas Eva!
I just found out last night from a friend he was anticipating viewing this movie this year very much as he had just seen it last year for the first time. That would be a lovely place to be.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday!
Carolyn

Anonymous said...

Yes, so much to discover! One friend told me she saw it the first time when she was twelve and she came in at the bridge scene. She became hooked and now knows all this trivia about it...
all the best to you Carolyn....
E

Steven LaRose said...

Some day, I'll see this movie. . . is there a car chase?

Anonymous said...

Happy holidays, Steven.
There is a car crash - how bout that?

E

Anonymous said...

I like your take Eva on the film. It is tragic that poor George must live a life of self-sacrafice that in the end almost lands him in jail or worse suicide because he couldn't do everything to hold his town together against evil incarnate old man Potter. The films odd plot twist where the main character gets to see an alternative universe is more 70's Philip K. Dick then 40's Frank Capra but saved the film from being just another sentimental holiday film about the virtues of Buddha like self-sacrafice. I like to think that in the end when the townspeople pull together to help George out they have finally learned the lesson of the importance of community and have defeated Potter (who ends up dieing in prison for stealing 8,000.00) and that George finally gets to live out his dreams of travel and building mile long bridges and skyscrapers a 100 stories high.

Anonymous said...

I like your ending, Anonymous. Perhaps most assume that in his statement: "I want to live again," he means to go back and live as he has all those years. It's nice to think the new life would be a little different - and instead of him adapting to the dreams of others, they would help him with his.
E

Anonymous said...

My friend and I had a lot of questions as we watched the film the other night. For instance, why doesn’t Potter pay for having stolen that money? Also, if George is so good at revamping and developing everyone else’s life, why is he still driving this jalopy from the 20s and living in a drafty old decrepit house? What happened to the honeymoon money he loaned out to everyone in the depression? Why are he and his family the poor strugglers, while everyone around him profits? Does this say something about those of us who hold on to our art dreams..?

m. said...

i think the movie portrays a perfectly plausible reason why one would attempt suicide. however, i don't buy how the angel brings him back to 'his senses.'

one must live for oneself, and that does happen in the end, but the angel's main ploy is to show george what an impact he has made on other people's lives, when, clearly, the real problem is that george has not made an impact on his own life...

which, imho, is the number one tragedy any one of us can saddle ourselves with for any reason.

call me selfish. i don't take offense. there are shades of the word i don't think we have properly laid out in the english language yet...

luckily, in the end, it looks like george is going to get a chance to follow his dreams, and i think it's never too late for that...

but i don't think the bumbling angle's initial tactics had a whole lot to do with that...

and in the end, what do you remember most...?

george being able to pursue his dreams? or george being a 'good' person and deserving to live for helping so many other people throughout his life?

(but hey, don't get me wrong, i love jimmy stewart, and every darn time i hear a bell ring...well...)