SocraticGadfly: An 'aha' moment from 'It's a Wonderful Life'

December 24, 2010

An 'aha' moment from 'It's a Wonderful Life'

At the end of George's extended vision, when he goes back to the bridge and discovers he's still alive? I believe the music at that point is a major-key variation on the medieval Dies Irae melody. (Doubt the average watcher would even pick up on that.)

The occurrence is just before Bert pulls up and says, "Where have you been, George"?" It just caught my ear. [That said, that's part of why I love Rachmaninoff, and I will hear the Dies Irae wherever it pops up.] Given that Dmitri Tiomkin, who wrote the score, was born in Old Russia 21 years after Rachmaninoff, and studies there under Alexander Glazunov and later, in Berlin, under Ferruccio Busoni, it adds to the possibility.

Apparently, it was his idea, and part of a darker original score, too, which got prettied up when the movie's Christmas sections were seen as the thematic core. See here for more on the score.

That said, what if Capra had ended the movie with George jumping? Or, had run it out another 30 minutes after the tear-jerker ending?

If you want to get more thought on that line, go here; is it "the most terrifying movie ever"?

Per the link, which talks about George's "resurrection," I think that IS a Dies Irae riff. That said, to riff on some of the ideas in the link ... it would have been interesting if, in the "salvation by friends" scene at the end, the actual Dies Irae had been playing, sotto voce.

Or, maybe it's time to do a remake?

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