It’s probably not a good idea to let me near the keyboard when I’m in an emotional state. Oh well, TOO LATE.
This movie is so damn good. You know those warm fuzzy feelings you get sometimes? Those feelings that your grade-school teachers use to call “Warm Fuzzies”? Those feelings that as you grew up got more grown-up names like “indigestion”, “heartburn”, and “gas”? Well, this movie leaves you with a good, warm feeling. There’s no confusing it with anything else. Plain old-fashioned warm, fuzzy feelings.
I hadn’t really given much thought to watching this movie again but while at Blockbuster the other night renting movies, it seemed almost obligatory to rent this one. My wife had never actually seen the movie (a scene here and there but that’s it) so it seemed as good a time as any.
I saw this movie, myself, for the VERY first time back in 1999. Quick bit of background as to why it was such an emotional experience for me. I was serving on my ship and I happened to have duty on Christmas Eve. This particular Christmas Eve was difficult for me. I was having some financial difficulties and was still freshly wounded from a break-up back in September. I was a mess. So what watch did I get stuck with on that evening? The fully loaded 9MM watch! The security rover. Two full clips on one hip and a 9MM pistol on the other hip. A very bad combination for me on this particular night. On this watch, we were required to walk about the ship and report back, IN PERSON, every 30 minutes. We were not allowed call or holler from a distance (we could possibly be under duress!!!). It had to be IN PERSON, no ifs ands or buts about it. Well, immediately after checking in, I went upstairs to one of my department’s shops and locked the door behind me. This particular door was a combination lock and only a few of us had the combination. I closed this door and removed the gun from its holster. I took a clip from my hip and put it in the gun. I then put the gun to my temple. I couldn’t do it. I put it in my mouth. I couldn’t do THAT either. I tried but I just couldn’t bring myself to take my own life. As badly as I wanted to, as miserable as I was, as unhappy as I felt, I still couldn’t do it. There was a little voice in the back of my head that just wouldn’t let me do it. I thought, “Someone will find me almost immediately. The gunshot will alert people besides the fact that I wouldn’t check in on my half-hour mark. And oh yeah, Larry’ll be pissed about cleaning up my brains tomorrow morning.” What kind of thoughts are these? Who knows? When you have a gun pointed at your head and YOU ARE THE ONE THAT PUT IT THERE, it doesn’t really matter what you’re thinking. I’m just glad that I didn’t go through with it.
Once my watch was over with, I went down to my workspace and tried to find something to watch and unwind with. I was still pretty shook up over what had transpired on my watch. I was desperate to tell someone how I felt but it didn’t seem like anybody out there would care about what I thought. I dug through all these movies and came across “It’s A Wonderful Life”. I had always heard good things about it but had never seen it yet. I figured that now’s as good a time as any and I’d go ahead and watch it. I popped it in and hit “Play” and what happened over the next couple hours was hard to explain. This movie is amazing in every aspect of the word. The movie singlehandedly restored my faith in the human race, if only for those 2 hours.
It’s A Wonderful life is the tale of George Bailey, played amazingly by James Stewart, a young man who has been held back for years from accomplishing his true dreams. His big plans of attending college and traveling the globe are all shattered by events in his life that hold him back. The movie shows his frustration but also stresses that he is never really “bitter” about his surroundings. It all comes to a head at the end of the film though. After his Savings and Loan suffers a debilitating financial blow, it’s just too much for George. He snaps, leaving his children in tears and his wife in bewilderment, racing out into the snow, determined to drink himself into a stupor and then end his own life. Immediately before he attempts to take his life, another character enters the fray! Clarence, George’s guardian angel, distracts George long enough to keep his mind off suicidal thoughts. After saving Clarence’s life, George is given the chance to see how life would be without him in it. No really! He heads back into town and is rudely awakened to his life carrying on without him in it. His friends don’t know him, his wife is not the same woman, his children don’t even exist! When he finally realizes how important his life truly is, that’s the most beautiful part of the movie. As one of the final words in the film, “No man is a failure who has friends”. How true that really is.
If you haven’t seen the movie, go rent it now. No zombies here, just a good time to be had by all.
One of the famous pics from this movie (courtesy of The Internet Movie Database)