Cinema is the least revolutionary of the arts: it happily plugs autocracy and hyper-capitalism with the Avengers franchise, and Ironman the pretend philanthropist and stupid Batman – infantile billionaires who save the world with weapons that you might conceivably buy in the Conran Shop should you fall down a wormhole to Chelsea.
Meanwhile, social democracy looks on, powerless and weak, for it has no superheroes. Real – that is, elected – politicians are the villains in this world, plus aliens. They are corrupt, and lacking in Batmobiles.
Christmas films – those set during Christmas, and those we habitually watch between Christmas and the new year – are as reactionary. They preach social conservatism and the compassionate possibilities of capitalism. Meanwhile, if you aren’t chosen for wealth and good fortune, they preach acceptance and gratitude. Suck your fate down, for there are no real gifts at Christmas.
Home was where George Bailey (James Stewart) couldn’t bear to be in It’s a Wonderful Life, but he learned to love it in the end. He had to, or die. An angel – a sort of heavenly management consultant, moving up the hierarchy – found Bailey contemplating suicide, such was the tedium of life in Bedford Falls.
Bedford Falls is a small American town, and the only place on earth that has actually practised David Cameron’s ridiculous doctrine (and nonsensical alternative to a functioning welfare state) which he called “big society”. Bailey is a banker of the righteous kind, and he battles with a banker of the wicked kind: Henry Potter.
The angel shows Bailey how Bedford Falls will be transformed if Potter prevails. It will become Potterville, a hell where sexual immorality, and even drink – drink! – are tolerated. That is, it will be a place where any sane person might wish to live.
It’s a Wonderful Life is very moving…