One man's life can have more impact on things around him than
anyone might realize. This was the main lesson in "It's a
Wonderful Life", a movie I recently watched. It starts off with
everyone in town praying for the safety of a man by the name of
George Bailey, who had apparently been acting strange lately. God
receives these prayers and sends for Clarence Oddbody, an angel who
had not yet earned his wings. Clarence is shown parts of George's
past in order for Clarence to understand him better.
In the first flashback some children are sledding down a snowy
hill in snow shovels, each trying to get further along the ice patch
at the bottom than the one before. George, 9 at the time, rescues his
younger brother, Harry, when he falls through the ice. George becomes
ill from the freezing water and loses his hearing in one ear a few
Four years later,George is now 13 and is working at the
pharmacy that is run by Mr. Gower. Mary tells him she loves him, but
makes sure to say it in his bad ear, so he can't hear her. George
talks of traveling the world, his want in life. Mr. Gower is in back
making pills, but has obviously tried to drink his sorrows away.
George finds a note that says Mr. Gower's son had died and then stops
him from unknowingly giving poison pills to a sick family.
George, now a grown man, is getting ready to leave for
college. He had helped work at his father's business for a few years,
only long enough to make some money for college. More than anything
else, his dream was still to leave this city and travel the world. He
Mr. Potter, the owner of the bank, had bought out most of the
town, but had always been defeated when trying to acquire the Baily
Loan Company. After 4 years, Harry came back a married man. World War
2 starts, and Harry enlists. George is rejected because of his bad
ear, and has to once again manage Bailey bank & loans. The Bailey
company barely manages to squeak by the depression. Harry comes home
a hero after the war. George marries Mary and they have four kids,
two boys and two girls.
The reason for George's crisis occurs when forgetful
"Uncle Billy", george's uncle who had been helping him run
the company from the start, accidentaly gives $8000 to Mr. Potter as
he was bragging that they had made it through the year, and that Mr.
Potter had not gotten their company. George, very distressed and now
starting to lose it, goes and gets drunk at the local bar. He then
plans on jumping off a bridge, but Clarance the angel comes down and
jumps before him. As Clarence expected, George jumped in and saved
him. Clarence tried to tell George how important he was, but George
refused to listen, so finally Clarence showed him what Bedford Falls
would be like if George had never been born.
The first thing George noticed was that everyone in town was a
good deal more angry, rude, and inhospitible. The "Bedford
Falls" sign now read "Pottersville", for Mr. Potter
owned the enitire town. Everyone now lived in run-down old houses,
for the trusting and friendly Bailey bank & loans had died with
his father. The city became ran-down, with a Gamorah-ish twist. Mary
became a bitter old maid, and his mother had to start a boarding
house just to make ends meet. Harry died when he fell into the ice,
and so did the transport vessels he saved in the war. Mr. Gower
became a drunkard after he was released from prison for poisoning an
entire family who had the flu. George became distraught and askes
Clarence to take him back.
George, his mood much lighter, ran home and hugged his
children. A banker and a lawyer were their, wnating the $8000. Mary
said she had a surprise for him. Just about the enitire town came in
and donated money to pay the bank. Well over what was needed was
raised, as the townspeople showed their gratitude to their good
friend, George Bailey. George looked down and saw "Tom
Sawyer", the book Clarence had been reading. Inside was a note
reminding him just how precious life is. A bell rang on the Bailey
christmas tree, signifyibg Clarence's earning of his wings.
This movie was a great example of just how valuable the gift
of life is, and how large of an impact even one person can have on
the life of so many others.