Baldwin: In the days of auld lang cinema

Published 9:51 am Friday, December 28, 2018

Season greetings my fellow New Year babies of Winchester.

I hope today finds you and yours simply having a wonderful Christmas time.

This time of year is a flurry of continued celebration in the name of our Lord, love and the season of lights. The latter focusing on the illumination of the internal spirit of humans as well as the festive illumination we adorn upon our houses.

Illumination can excite our inner child with its twinkling or bestow a simple and subtle serenity which a lit candle brings to slow us in our tracks from our adopted busy modus operandi resulting in a much-needed stillness.

This stillness, at times, is foreign to our natures in our contemporary world.

Stillness is an underestimated state of consciousnesses and being, which all of us tend to neglect in our hectic day to day routines.

To survive, we “progress” to the standards of the secular norms of our world through the nonstop use of technology, perfect the art of multitasking to meet the demands of our social norms, with the end goal to accomplish more on our to do lists.

With the need for more, we also welcome more stress, sickness and strife which dims the brightness of our souls. Sense of stillness and the rare state of self-imposed silence, are needed every day because of their beneficial necessity to our physical and spiritual well-being.

Stillness feeds the spirit with healthy doses of wisdom, patience and perspective, marinating the spirit as one sits in a state of deep reflection pondering on their gift of life.

As 2018 ends, we are on the cusp of great expectations as to what 2019 will bring. This period should reinvigorate us toward setting realistic resolutions towards personal growth, continuous improvement and adopting a thankful nature for what we do have rather than what we don’t.

The importance of these sentiments is best on display in Frank Capra’s seasonal classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946). George Bailey, Jimmy Stewart of “Harvey” (1950), has come to the end of his rope. George desired to travel the world, become a famous architect, and become the big shot that left his little hometown due to his worldly ambitions.

Responsibility to family, the marriage to Mary, Donna Reed of “From Here to Eternity” (1953) and caring for the needs of his community put the brakes on achieving his dreams.

Life happened, and George never left. Years pass and George who serves his community and family selflessly, now faces scandal, bankruptcy and imprisonment for a business crime he didn’t commit because of nefarious scheming from the Scrooge of Bedford Falls, Mr. Potter, Lionel Barrymore of “Key Largo” (1948).

It’s Christmas, George is hopeless and on the verge of suicide. Heaven intervenes by sending George his guardian angel, Clarence.

Clarence shows George what the town, his family and life would have looked like if he had never existed and that his life is important in that his deeds have changed the lives of those around him for the better.

This New Year’s Eve, as we countdown to shake hands with Father Time once again at the stroke at midnight, we will officially be out with old and in with new.

Let’s make a conscious effort to steer clear from old personal flaws such as the self-centered, stressed out cinephiles we have become due to the strains from our selfish celebrated society. In trade, lets adopt mindsets which keep us humble, charitable to our neighbors and grateful that we have another chance to start over.

After the ball drops and the merry-making subsides, let’s make “It a Wonderful Life” be a positive and grounding staple to your new New Year’s film viewing tradition.

“Life” will make you put down your flute of bubbly and noisemakers to instead drink from a goblet of gratitude packed with a healthy dose of Vitamin “S,” spiritual stillness.

Remember, slow and steady makes one mindful and ever ready. It is a wonderful life indeed. Have a happy new year and a film-tastic day.

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society (