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Why A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life are the Same Story

Every December, I make it a point to watch Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life and Clive Donner’s version of A Christmas Carol. In my opinion, they are the two greatest Christmas movies ever made. But after watching them this past year, I realized something; both movies are telling the exact same story, inverted from each other. 

 

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: The Mayflower Compact Goes West

In his National Review piece Kyle Smith notes that this movie is most famous for its cynicism of the press, and the puncturing of Old West mythology; its most famous line being “This is the West, Sir.  When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” In this view, the film was pioneer postmodern.  There should not be an abundance of joy in the destruction of myth. As Jordan Peterson often reminds us, shared mythology is part of the cultural cement that holds us together, just as the Arthurian legends instructed actual knights on the meaning of chivalry.