It’s a wonderful life, actually

Movies are essentially stories with varying budgets and as Christmas approaches and we’re almost only a week out from Yule, I take a look at some of my old favourites that get me in the mood.


It’s odd, because most Christmas movies tend to feature snow and chilly weather and here we are in Cape Town in shorts and slops. I’m slowly going through some classics, both from before I was born as well as more modern ones.


If I have to rate some of the best, I would start with Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a wonderful life’, starring James Stewart as George Bailey who despairs of life when there is a financial axe about to fall and he feels like he’s let down his family. Clarence, a trainee angel shows him what others’ lives would have been like if he had never been born and old George sees the value of his life as never before.


Right up there at number 2 is the bumbling everyman, Clark Griswold in ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation’. Although not overtly profound it demonstrates the strong impulse of a man to have a family close to him and lead it, even if the results are comical and slightly unhinged. Clark also buys into the value of tradition which so many social engineers sneer at these days.


Numbers 3 and 4 are ‘The Holiday’, a favourite with the ladies who get the warm fuzzies when the guy get’s the girl or vice versa, and ‘Rise of the Guardians’ where a warm-hearted Russian Santa needs the help of Jack Frost to defeat the misanthrope Pitch.


I reckon ‘Love, actually’ is a movie with plenty of emotional heft, although it isn’t the most Christmassy. So, it comes in at number 5, bringing up the rear.


There are hundreds of titles I haven’t mentioned but these are the ones in the old DVD collection that do the job very well of connecting me to Christmas on a story level. The only thing better is that church service on Christmas morning where we all sing about the story of Christ’s birth.


And boy, I’m salivating already with the thought of that juicy gammon and roast potatoes.

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