It's A Wonderful Life [Blu-Ray]

Frank Capra

BY Michael EdwardsPublished Nov 30, 2011

Despite the fact that it's become a beloved Christmas staple, It's A Wonderful Life is actually a rather dark movie that takes the viewer on a rollercoaster ride before delivering the heart-warming ending most people actually remember. If it wasn't for that sombre tone, it would be harder to take the more sentimental moments seriously, but Frank Capra was such a wonderful director that he was able to balance such things and stop one of his greatest films from becoming maudlin nonsense. Ironically, the plot, which aims to demonstrate the value of appreciating what you have and how goodness will win out over greed, is more appropriate than ever these days. There is never any doubt about which characters to empathize with, but there is still a great deal of complexity in how everything plays out. James Stewart is fantastic as George Bailey, one of the greatest everyman characters from the Golden Age of Hollywood, and there isn't a single weak link in the supporting cast either. It really did deserve the five Oscar nominations it received, even if it lost out to The Best Years of Our Lives in each and every category. The film looks wonderful on Blu-Ray; it has been cleaned up and definitely is an improvement over the version that's inevitably on television every Christmas. The two-disc set also includes the colourized version, something that might appal purists, but as colourizing jobs go, isn't the worst, by any means. It doesn't look as fake as some of the earlier attempts did, but it doesn't add anything of value. If anything, it lacks a little of the sharpness that the black and white version has, making a convincing argument for never removing it from the case. The Blu-Ray comes in a comically oversized fuzzy box, which has a Christmas tree diorama, complete with a little metal bell ornament that doesn't come close to being a good enough reason to call this a "special" box set. Nor does the little eight-page souvenir booklet. The box even lists an extra ― a tribute to Capra narrated by his son ― that isn't on either of the discs. Instead, there is a 20-minute featurette on the making-of the film and the original trailer, meaning the only reason to pick this up is for the film itself, which has stood the test of time.
(Paramount Pictures)

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