When I created my Christmas movie calendar, a friend asked me why “It’s A Wonderful Life” wasn’t on the list. (I actually had more people ask why “Die Hard” wasn’t on the list, but that’s a different post entirely.)
My go-to response about Frank Capra’s most famous film is this: “I hate it.”
People don’t usually press me for an explanation, but I’ve spent a little more time this year trying to pinpoint why I hate the movie so much.
Monday in my Pop Culture class, I showed a YouTube video compiled of AFI’s list of the top 100 movie quotes of all time. And smack in the middle of the video is this line:
And then I remembered why I can’t handle watching “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
When I was still at BYU and still under his spell, he sent me a drawing. The boy was actually a talented artist and his daily (yes, daily) letters often included small romantic sketches. But this drawing came in a fancy cylindrical mailing tube. I unraveled it, and melted.
It was the two of us, sitting on a park bench. His arm was around me (the perspective was from the back, so our faces were not part of the sketch), and our heads tilted back slightly to look at a cloudless sky full of stars and a full moon. A chat bubble elegantly filled some of the space in the sky: “You want the moon, Julie? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it…I’ll give you the moon…”
Two months later, he proposed on Christmas Eve, and the next day we watched that movie. The boy whispered in my ear, “I meant it when I went you that drawing, and I mean it now.”
After I found the courage to leave him, I didn’t watch that movie for six years. And then I spent Christmas with a different boy and his family, and that movie was part of tradition. So I watched it and didn’t mind, because that boy was the one I knew I would marry, and I could build a new tradition with him–I could get over the PTSD I’d associated with all things Christmas. And I believed that until six months later when the boy told me he never loved me in the first place, and I was basically delusional in thinking he did.
These two memories were really a lot of take in during a 1st hour class–I truly had blocked out why I loathed the holiday classic so much–but at least now I know why I don’t like that movie.
Fun fact: “It’s A Wonderful Life” won a special Oscar for its snowflakes. From the American Film Institute: