It's a Wonderful Life  [DVD]
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Frank Capra directs this heartwarming Christmas fantasy. George Bailey (James Stewart) has spent his entire life in the small town of Bedford Falls. Despite his yearning to see the world, George has always sacrificed his personal ambitions for the sake of his family and the local community, settling down to marry his childhood sweetheart, Mary (Donna Reed), and raise a family. However, when a huge amount of money goes missing from the savings and loans company he panics and finds himself preparing to commit suicide. However, he is shown the error of this idea by Clarence (Henry Travers), an angel who has been sent to Earth in order to earn his wings. To this end, Clarence shows George just how badly Bedford Falls and its residents would have turned out had he never been born.
Now perhaps the most beloved American film, It's a Wonderful Life was largely forgotten for years, due to a copyright quirk. Only in the late 1970s did it find its audience through repeated TV showings. Frank Capra's masterwork deserves its status as a feel-good communal event, but it is also one of the most fascinating films in the American cinema, a multilayered work of Dickensian density. George Bailey (played superbly by James Stewart) grows up in the small town of Bedford Falls, dreaming dreams of adventure and travel, but circumstances conspire to keep him enslaved to his home turf. Frustrated by his life, and haunted by an impending scandal, George prepares to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. A heavenly messenger (Henry Travers) arrives to show him a vision: what the world would have been like if George had never been born. The sequence is a vivid depiction of the American Dream gone bad, and probably the wildest thing Capra ever shot (the director's optimistic vision may have darkened during his experiences making military films in World War II). Capra's triumph is to acknowledge the difficulties and disappointments of life, while affirming--in the teary-eyed final reel--his cherished values of friendship and individual achievement. It's a Wonderful Life was not a big hit on its initial release, and it won no Oscars (Capra and Stewart were nominated); but it continues to weave a special magic. --Robert HortonSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Now for the blu-ray review. This release includes the original black & white release of the film and a recent colourised version.
BLACK AND WHITE VERSION: Taking into account that the film is over 60 years old there is little to no grain. The picture and (mono) sound is crystal clear. The restoration of the film is fantastic and it has never looked better.
COLOUR VERSION: I'm aware that a few people dislike the colourisation of classic b/w movies, certain films should never be colourised as they work better in b/w (e.g. psycho). However I've always felt that It's a wonderful life, being a festive film and everything, would benefit from a colour print (not that there was anything wrong in the original b/w version) as long as it was done properly and not have people with yellow skin, etc. This is by far the best example of colourisation I have ever seen. If you didn't know the film you would believe that it was shot in colour (and quite recently too).
Having both versions pleases both the nostalgics and new generations. Both versions are included on a single disc.
One thing worth noting is that the film is presented in it's original aspect ratio. Instead of black lines at the top and bottom of the screen we have black bars at the sides. Normally producers stretch the film out when releasing on dvd / blu-ray but have not done so here. I believe this was intended to make the picture clearer as stretching it out to fit modern widescreen TV's may have distorted the picture and it wouldn't have looked quite as sharp as it does.Read more ›
Simply, this film is, without doubt, 5 stars. Full stop. In B&W it's tremendous and in colour it is tremendous. Buy this movie whether you are cool about black and white movies or whether you need a bit of colour. Its great either way and this DVD gives you both. Choose and enjoy.
The film wasnt actually a big hit in 1947, it actually started to receive rave reviews much later in life when an administrative mistake meant that the copyright was lost and it was free to be aired on TV. The TV stations took in on board and it quickly grew to become a must see film every christmas.
There are many things that make this a fantastic film. The acting of James Stewart is brilliant, the casting of Donna Reed as Mary, and the supporting roles played by many of the other brilliant actors is spectaculor.
However its the story that 1 mans life and how it touches and changes other peoples lives that hold it in the nations hearts
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This one of the most uplifting feel good and perfectly character driven Christmas films but also perfect for viewing throughout the year. Read morePublished 3 days ago by The Green Man
never seen this before what a lovely film.. I like old classics very much and this is top of the list.Published 25 days ago by frankie
Both versions of a very old classic film
2 disks, 1 with original black and white version and 1 with new colour re-mastered version.