In the film It’s A Wonderful Life, directed by Frank Capra, an angel visits a depressed George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) as he contemplates suicide. The second-class angel, named Clarence, shows George what life in his hometown of Bedford Falls would have been like if he were never born. George would never have saved his brother’s life or married his sweetheart, Mary. Life would be very different.
When I watched it with my family this winter, we noticed how this movie, cherished by all ages, is actually quite dark and suggestive. If it were made today it, like Bedford Falls without George, would have been quite different. Hot button portrayals of alcoholism, child abuse, sexism and racial inequality are prevalent in Frank Capra’s most beloved film.
In this video essay I explore what the world of Bedford Falls would be like if realized under the watchful eye of social justice in today’s ethical climate.