All you need is love – A late Christmas special.
“All you need is love.” That’s the Beatles.
So get vaccinated. Three movies to counter winter holiday blues. Disparate as chalk, cheese and chilly they have three things in common; Impeccable writing, stellar casting and yuletide optimism.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1947).
Like a cartographer, the motivated George Bailey has his life mapped out. Modifying the plans of fate he claims, “I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that. “I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon…
…and then I’m gonna build things. I’m gonna build airfields, I’m gonna build bridges a mile long.”
On the flip side, life has an altered reality intended for George. He gets married to the angelic Mary and has a lovely family.
However over the years, one by one, each of his dream gets shattered, his aspirations crushed. He never leaves the town of Bedford Falls, never goes to college or builds bridges, runs the family loan business he despises and every ambition he had is stripped bone dry.
Wishing he’d “never been born” and driven to attempt suicide, he is presented by Clarence (Angel Second Class) a version of life without his existence.
What he sees opens his eyes and Bailey begins to see life for the first time.
Without him, his wife is an old spinsterish librarian, his haggard mother runs a boarding house, his brother dies young in a drowning accident and his uncle perishes in a mental asylum. Furthermore the idyllic town he grew up in…
…is now called Pottersville, controlled by a Scrooge avatar named Potter. It is a den of inequity and sin and riddled with gambling and whoring joints. This is an imagined post war capitalist America imploding on itself.
As Clarence tells us, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
If Kurosawa underscored the “Rashomon Effect” depicting the nature of perception in 1950, here Capra emphasizes the “Ripple Effect”. Philosophy simplified to hit the right spots but it still works. Good or bad, every person’s life impacts others; usually without realizing it’s incremental value.
Like on Cameron’s “Pandora”, we all are connected. Everyone matters. No life is wasted till you decide to trash it and that’s a jingling message at Christmas.
Love, Actually (2003).
“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” The dialogue sums it all up.
Fifteen minutes in and complying with the portmanteau technique of screenwriting, we are introduced to a series of seemingly unrelated stories by writer director Richard Curtis; but like Goddess Eywa says, we are all linked see.
It’s Christmas time and jolly cheer is all around; except the recurrent fear of not opening the door when love comes knocking or opening it when it decides to leave.
Criticized as manipulative and shallow by some, the film has sparkling, tongue in cheek dialogue and an exemplary ensemble cast. It attempts to explore the many facets of love, making it a favorite curl up at night comfort movie. Most audiences intimately identified with and picked their own cherished story. The special ones, in no particular order, are;
Billy Mack and Joe.
Billy Mack, an aged but reformed drug addict rock star has a new single out called “ Christmas is all around”, a knock off the kind that “Sonu and Sanu” sang for a while.
For years, he is abusive towards his “fat and ugly” long standing manager Joe who stands by him through it all.
Finally he comprehends how only Joe, his unkown best friend is worthy of his trust and is “the love of his life”.
Jamie and Aurelia.
To get over his cheating girlfriend Jamie, an author, takes refuge in his French cottage……where he rapidly falls in love with the uncomplicated Aurelia, a part time housekeeper while ignoring a slight complication.
They don’t share a common spoken language.
Juliet and Mark.
Just wedded Juliet…
…discovers that her husband’s best friend Mark, for all these years has silently loved her. In light of her current situation it is extremely inconvenient.
He finally confesses but is it too late?
Karen, Harry and Mia.
We assume that after thirteen years of marriage, most bases are covered. While Karen is busy taking care of their children and household…
…her husband Harry feels sexually enamored by his seductive new secretary, Mia.
Can the marriage survive the onslaught?
David and Natalie.
David, the newly elected Prime Minister is captivated by Natalie, a junior staff member.
Bothered by the unethical situation, he gets her transferred. And like most clueless men, he doesn’t know that Natalie feels the same.
Finally caught snogging at the discovery of their mutual attraction and in the spirit of Christmas, public revelation comes with the rising curtain during a nativity play by the kids.
Daniel and Sam.
As Daniel mourns for his recently dead wife……he struggles to cope with this personal loss while struggling to find a connection with his stepson Sam…
…who is undergoing the excruciating discovery of puppy love. And their connection is re-established through the movies they have seen together.Sarah and Karl.
Sarah, for over two years now has been deeply in love with her company’s creative director Karl……is delighted to finally get a date. However the penny drops and she has to make the painful choice between Karl…
…and her chronically mentally challenged brother, Michael.
Die Hard (1988)
Hope is fast being denied to a bunch of hostages. Cornered and cowering, their fear is palpable and they crave for a savior.
Carrying a teddy bear, a bad ass reluctant hero emerges out of the chaos, to restore order and balance.
Beyond debate, the most explosive action flick ever is at its heart, a Christmas time family story as well.
Missing his kids, John McClane arrives in LA from New York…
…keen to patch up with his estranged wife, Holly Gennero (who now uses her maiden name which John detests)…
…and works for the Japanese owned Nakatomi Corporation, the office where the party is being hosted.
It’s the perfect time to reconcile, to forget the past and make new beginnings…
…but even heroes, riddled with self destructive egos, feel emasculated around strong women and require an omen to be activated. Enter Hans Gruber, and his band of fallen angels. He quotes Plutarch and has an impeccable sartorial taste.
As an uneven mythical war is declared between the Savior and Lucifer’s band in a building almost touching heaven…
..the barefooted and bleeding John…
…has to make sure he survives…
…and can save the wife and claim his family once again.
Hans, the super suave villain, also believes in Christmas miracles.
And for someone who hates closed spaces, this will be a day nonpareil.
And even during the operatic seesaw battle of wits that follows, they never lose their spicy sense of humor.
And in true yuletide spirit as good triumphs over evil…
…you can almost hear Karan Johar say, “It’s all about the family.”
“And some are pretty good. Like, for instance, this thing Die Hard. It was a good picture. I liked that.”
Billy Wilder, quoted in Conversations With Wilder, by Cameron Crowe, 1999.
Happy Holidays to you all. Keep sharing. Cheers.