Friday, January 04, 2008

Capra, Causes, and Caucuses

Family meals have started to carry the excited conversations that characteristically arrive in early January every leap year. We have all managed to squeeze around the small computer screen many times in recent days to watch the excited and hopeful speeches of the contestants vieing for major party nomination in the 2008 presidential campaign. Iowa has certainly added energy and drama to the faithful followings from Bentley.

Tonight we took a little break from the politics of 2008 and reversed the clock back to the 1930's to relive Frank Capra's creation of one man's political fight (Jeff Smith, Jimmy Stewart) for truth, dignity and the belief that "the only causes worth fighting for are the lost causes." Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) is a slow film, which makes the excitement, when it comes, all the more thrilling. But, more importantly, as seems characteristic for a Capra film, the prevailing theme remains that one person always has potential to bring forth and orchestrate influencing levels of change.

I suppose that is the obvious reason that the elections of this year attract such attention.

The encouragement for the rest of us who gladly do not find our current vocations attracting so much attention, comes from the angel, Clarence, in Capra's later film, It's a Wonderful Life (1946), "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?"