Is “It’s a Wonderful Life” anti-travel?
There’s only one movie in the world that can make me cry, the 1946 American Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” directed by Frank Capra. The last time was onboard Lufthansa’s A380 flight to Singapore, and luckily for me, the flight was fairly empty.
- Soundtrack of the report
- Jingle Bells
I decided to watch the film again, because I had recently talked about it with my friend Adam in Berlin during a conversation about Christmas movies. Although he likes the movie, I was surprised to hear that he thought the movie might be against travel. I had seen the movie before and it never struck me as anti-travel. But to be fair, the last time was seven years ago, so I decided to watch it again when I had the chance. And when I saw the very poor movie selection on my flight to Singapore I didn’t hesitate.
If you haven’t seen the movie you might want to watch before reading any further, as it might spoil it a bit for you. Here’s IMDB’s plotline for the movie: “An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.”
You can also have a longer plot summary on the Wikipedia page, but I think this line explains it all in regards to the traveling question: “George repeatedly sacrifices his dream to travel the world for others.”
To me, the movie is not against travel; I believe it’s the exact opposite actually. I read frequently on travel blogs that anyone can travel; that it’s not about the money, you just have to make the choice, you can always be free, and bla bla. I don’t think that’s entirely true. Sometimes life will prevent you from traveling or taking chances, like starting a company, and that’s exactly what the movie illustrates. That’s why on multiple occasions George chooses to do the right thing for the people around him, which costs him all his opportunities to travel. He has no choice because it’s not the right thing to do.
The real meaning of the movie for me makes a strong statement that if you have the immense privilege to live your dream (whether it is traveling around the world or anything else), you need to go for it not only for you, but for all the people that can’t. As Alice puts it, perfectly in her column, you shouldn’t fear taking a leap of faith if you have the opportunity to do so. Millions of people wish they could, so do it for you and for them.
If I speak for myself, I had to face this choice exactly two years ago when I decided not to accept a comfortable position at the French Embassy, instead starting to work full time on Hejorama, through which I believe I can accomplish greater things than when I was serving diplomats.
Hundreds of people want to start their own companies and travel world. I could “easily” make this choice because I own my flat in Paris and I know that I can count on my family and friends if anything happens. If I fail, I will have took the chance to do something better with my life because I have good cards in my hands. I owe that to the people who dream of it but don’t have the option.