Every since the initial idea came about in 2006, comparisons with my idea and a film I’ve never seen called ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ have been made time and time again. I figured that it would be good for me to finally get round to watching the film, as it is available for free on Youtube in it’s entirety.
The film was not at all what I expected – rather than focusing on the paranormal or supernatural, the film was mostly a biopic of a fictitious man. For those who don’t know the story, a man is about to kill himself on Christmas Eve, when an angel appears and convinces him to live. The topic is almost identical to my own story, although I’ve decided to omit the ‘suicide’ theme from the script as I feel it is a bit ‘heavy’ for a short piece.
For ninety minutes, the film just tells us of the life of George Bailey. In the last half an hour, the angel appears and shows him what his life means to others, by taking him to an alternate reality where in he’d never existed. It’s arguable that it may have been better to show what happens twenty minutes after his ‘suicide’ (which pretty much sums up what people think of him) – it would certainly have been simpler! However, I suspended disbelief to enjoy this classic of cinema.
The angel representation differs greatly between this film and mine. In this film, it is more stereotypical – a man, for a start. A kind old man who is innocent and not over bearing. He represents the pure and the righteous, and although the term ‘fallen angel’ is referred in the film, it is simply his own goofiness that makes him a bit of a liability in heaven. Joseph and God are both heavily featured, making this a firm film of Christian beliefs. This however made me find it difficult to believe the ‘Second Class Angel’ job he was preaching towards the end. Needless to say, my angel is a much darker character who has been cast down from heaven for being more than just clumsy. This will aim to add a level of realism, making my fallen angel less of an ethereal character, and more of a human being.
There was a lot of repetition towards the end of the film in terms of what was going on – hopefully since my angel has wings and supernatural speed, it can be deduced rather quickly that both characters know where they stand, instead of spending half the running time trying to convince each other that they’re real. I found the ending of the film implausible and a little nonsensical, but then as most Christmas movies go, the general vibe is ‘Who cares? It’s Christmas!’ (endings that I’ve never liked in films over two hours long!)
Overall, I liked the film – truth be told, the biopic part of the film for me was more interesting than the angel part. However, it is important to note that in a film over two hours long, biopics can be greatly details and include all manner of set pieces. For a short film, which focuses on only one part of a narrative, the angel scene is no doubt the most interesting and unique. On IMDB, the site references the film as being about angels and parallel worlds. In truth, it’s not – the angel just seemed like nothing more than a way to end the film on a ‘quirky’ note. There was plenty of humour in it as well though, which is something that will be needed in mine also. No doubt my script will be darker than the script in this film, but that is just simply the natural advance of movie making and the society we live in.
Same Idea, Different Approach – Clarence the angel, from It’s A Wonderful Life (above), and an image of what will become Amy Carter for Peter Has An Angel (below). Although it is hard to notice the gradual change in social and cultural arts over time, when comparing two similar ideas over such a vast time period, one can see how people’s minds have changed in terms of what they perhaps expect a fallen angel to look like.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is the acting – regardless of my issues with the plot, the acting in It’s A Wonderful life was top-notch throughout, as was the script. Mine will need to match as best it can – it is imperative for my film to succeed. Another film that also keeps cropping up is ‘Dogma’, which I plan to watch soon.