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« Aesthetic Heroes | Main | Serious »

12/24/2004

Comments

Stuart Greenhouse

Wonderful post.

Richard

Given your admiration of Gilbert Sorrentino, I'm curious what you think of his essay about the film, "Things Ain't What They Seem," in his collection, Something Said...

Dan Green

That essay does not appear to be included in my copy of Something Said.

Richard

Ah, right. I have the later edition. It originally appeared in CONTEXT; here's the link:

http://www.centerforbookculture.org/context/no2/sorrentino.html

Matt

What a wonderful post.

One thing that has always struck me about the film: the dystopian world to which George returns is a caricature of the cultural revolution of the 60s. There is jazz in the air, New York City gruffness in the bartenders, and spitting in the streets.

"the 'American Dream' itself only leads to nihilism and despair if pursued to its logical conclusions"

To me, this sentiment (hard to distinguish from "history ends with postmodernism") suggests a certain nostalgia--a sentimental if not willfully blind one, on some level--that refuses to learn from the 60s and so still feeds the reactionary "debate" over the so-called "culture wars" that currently passes for political discourse in the US/Britain.

But you are right; it is a beautiful film. (Surely Umberto Eco has written something?) The existential elements always get me too. One just wonders whether the happy ending would still be possible without such simple, if also archetypal, caricatures. Archetypes are still beautiful, I think, in a way. Or at least, you know, hard to do without, given their centuries of influence. Our ways of interrogating them are certainly changing all the time.

Dan Green

Richard: I think I'm going to put up a supplementary post on Sorrentino's essay.

Merry Christmas!

Dan,

"It's a Wonderful Life" is "A Christmas Carol" turned inside out. Where Scrooge needs to see what he has left undone and where he has broken the magnetic chain of humanity, Bailey needs to 'see' and value what he has done and how he has forged a complicated web of giving.

No, it's not a bit surprising as a Christmas perennial. It is inevitable as a Christmas film, exactly because it--how un-p.c.! how a-political! how peculiar--attacks wealth and ambition and received ideas. So did a long-haired fellow in robe and dirty sandals, about 2000 years back, whose whole being was bound up in giving of self.

And you believe that Capra says that the powerful are out to get you, you radical with ideas about showing the rich and ambitious and the blinkered what life really means and how to live it more widely and fully? Then watch out, because they may just stab you against two bits of crossed wood if they catch you.

How very odd. How utterly Christian--not your "mall" Christian, but the ordinary single soul with heart "in his knee," as George Herbert says.

Pax tecum amice.

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