Fade into a quiet Central Massachusetts town, with one main street with an old-Hollywood lit marquee in the December fog. The sign reads “It’s A Wonderful Life”.
This particular theater has been around since 1924. Briefly shut in the mid-1970s, then revitalized again by a few active hands in Clinton, Massachusetts community in 1995, the Strand and surrounding town have faced the same economic hardships and cyclical struggles of the American rural town. But just like the end of Frank Capra’s holiday classic, the town is still a band of brothers when things seem down and out. When George Bailey comes home on Christmas to find the whole town in his living room, donating money to keep his father’s business alive and out of the hands of the greedy tycoon, Mr. Porter, everyone in the Strand gave a standing ovation.
American cinema classics are important reflectors of major struggles throughout the history of the US. Race, religion, war, recession, sexual liberation and conflict are all memorialized through Hollywood in good and bad ways. A quintessential holiday classic like It’s A Wonderful Life is a guiding principle for many generations, even in its 67th year. It reminds of us of a sense of small-town community that seems to feel lost in the high-speed and the anxious ruts we find ourselves in; something that may not be lost, but reappears when the time is right. It makes us feel foolish and, well, stupid for not appreciating the good things that we have in life to cope with the bad.
The American dream for all may still exist, but is not without its struggle, and may prove more for the ride than the end goal; we only need to realize what has been recurrent all along. It’s possible that we are not as individualistic as we are once portrayed to be, because things that are trivial and easily seen are rarely worthy of being discovered.