How It’s A Wonderful Life Is Still Relevant 75 Years Later


A deeper story 

I’m going to start out by saying something controversial… I hate most Christmas movies. A lot of them follow the same shallow plot that stuffs an overly sentimental message about love or magic that has no substance built upon it. Usually the plot goes something like this: the lady with the blonde hair and the white teeth leaves the big city to be reunited with her high school sweetheart who just so happens to be Santa Claus’ son. It’s a Wonderful Life can definitely be sappy at times, but it never feels shallow. The movie tackles a lot of dark American issues and time periods. Its themes of community, stress, mental health, greed, capitalism, and the impact of our individual choices are still relevant in 2021.


Despite the movie’s reputation as the All American Christmas tale, it has a large anti-capitalist message at its core- so much so that the FBI actually investigated it because they thought it was Communist propaganda.  In the article “‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a holiday classic. The FBI thought it was communist propaganda”, author Travis M. Andrews of the Washington Post states, “J. Edgar Hoover’s Communist-hunting agents thought it was a Trojan horse sneaking anti-American propaganda to the masses. This argument was compiled in a memo written by an unnamed special agent in the FBI’s Los Angeles field office about “communist infiltration” of the motion picture industry.”

The main grievances the FBI had with the movie was the portrayal of the wealthy as corrupt, most notably the banker Mr. Potter. Throughout the movie, the man tries to take advantage of the citizens of Bedford Falls, many of whom had been impoverished by the stock market crash of 1929. The protagonist George Bailey is shown in a positive light; he gives out his own money, which he had intended to use on his honeymoon, in order to keep his fellow neighbors from being scammed by Mr. Potter.

Mr. Potter is a relevant character today, especially in comparison to billionaires. As the wealth gap becomes larger and larger, people such as Jeffrey Bezos and Elon Musk seem to be just as bad as this fictional antagonist. Mr. Potter also has a lot of similarities to former president Donald J. Trump, such as the confident self-fulfilled way of speech, the abundance of wealth, and even their facial expression.

Mr. Potter and Donald Trump

Suicidal thoughts during the stressful holiday season 

Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicide and hopelessness

The darkest part of It’s a Wonderful Life is when George Bailey feels at fault for the loss of a large sum of money and succumbs to a state of so much stress and disillusionment that he starts to believe that he’s better off dead then alive. The winter and the holiday season can be an especially hard time for mental health. All the pressures of school, your family, and other day to day stressors can pile up and lead to feelings of hopelessness.

If you or a friend are having thoughts of suicide, don’t hesitate to reach out.

In the film, George Bailey has an angel save him, and he sees what would happen if he had never been born. As he walks around Bedford Falls and sees the struggle all of his loved ones would be put through without him, he soon realises his importance. In real life, it’s not that simple. We don’t get to see how terrible the world would be without us, so it can be a lot more difficult to see a purpose to life in dark times. You will never truly know how much happiness you bring to other people and how important you are, but I can assure you that at some point in the next day someone will think of you fondly. Every car you’ve let in in the parking lot, every time you’ve shown someone a friendly smile, and every time you’ve made someone laugh, your presence has made the world a better place. Your mundane day-to-day activities can bring joy to others. You are more important than your grades, a sum of money, or a few people’s negative remarks.

The importance of community

Family in It’s a Wonderful Life

The core message of this movie is that the good things you do for others will come back to you. In the end, all the people George had helped throughout the film, whether it be saving them from the greed of Mr. Potter or keeping a man from killing another with the wrong pharmaceuticals, come together to save him from financial ruin. It’s a great way for all of George’s decisions and acts of kindness that sometimes negatively affected him to pay off in the end. No, he never got to be a great explorer, but he got a community of support and people who truly cared about him.

The message of how kindness pays off in the end is timeless. Although this movie is old, in black and white, and has Trans-Atlantic accents, which can be confusing at times, I believe it is just as relevant in 2022 and will truly stay a timeless classic.