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December 20, 2007

Frank Capra and the test of faith

Wonderful1 In a recent BreakPoint commentary, Chuck Colson talks about why It's a Wonderful Life is so special to so many of us -- because it's about faith, not in the midst of ideal circumstances, but in the middle of the real world.

[Frank] Capra was raised a Catholic in a family of Sicilians who, despite grinding poverty, enjoyed great happiness. Capra “was raised to believe in the Christian faith as the way to understand man and his destiny.”

But there is another side to Capra, Bennett notes: the Capra who studied chemistry at Cal Tech, “the [hard,] science of what things are made of if you take them apart and boil them down. This schooling . . . in an atmosphere of skepticism and insistence on hard proof ensured that . . . the cinema of Frank Capra would be the cinema, not of blind faith, but of doubt”—and doubts resolved, just like science experiments.

As a director, Capra “begins dispassionately and systematically turning up the Bunsen burners of doubt, despair, and tragedy,” Bennett writes, until it’s “so hot that the test simply cannot fail to uncover whether this ‘Capra-corn’ he grew up believing can actually stand as a viable picture of the way things really are . . . or whether it [is] . . . nothing but a comforting fantasy.”

Read more. And read the article on which this commentary is based (and which Kim blogged about) here.

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Comments

Steve (SBK)

I read the Rod Bennett article when Kim blogged about it... such a great article.
I love the way he described his life being messed up (in a good way) by this movie.
"I looked slowly around the room; everything looked the same as it had two hours before. But I knew I wasn't the same. Maybe I had taken the whole thing too seriously somehow. Maybe I just hadn't seen many movies yet. Maybe when you get older you get used to being slapped around like this. "
And then his detailed examination of Capra : excellent.

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