It's A Wonderful Life is both a sentimental holiday entertainment and a serious examination of a search for meaning and spiritual fulfillment. As a psychodrama that externalizes George Bailey's values and desires in the surrounding characters, the film creates a narrative we can easily relate to, but arranged as an archetypal journey that reveals a deeper spiritual significance by identifying George with Christ's quest for salvation. The increased psychodramatic density, combined with the archetypal structure, transforms a sentimental holiday entertainment into a serious work of art with lasting religious and spiritual meaning, thereby accounting for its enduring popularity.
Riccomini, Donald R.
"Christian Signature and Archetype in Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life,"
Journal of Religion & Film: Vol. 13
, Article 7.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/jrf/vol13/iss1/7