“Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” Revisited

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Mr. Smith Goes To Washington DVD CoverI’ve just finished watching again the old academy award-winning film by Frank Capra starring James (Jimmy) Stewart,  Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. It’s late but after witnessing a real marvel of performance from the classical cinema era, I feel I can pause and take just a few moments to review on what makes a film great.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington DVD Cover

I’ve just finished watching again the old academy award-winning film by Frank Capra starring James (Jimmy) Stewart,  Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. It’s late but after witnessing a real marvel of performance from the classical cinema era, I feel I can pause and take just a few moments to review on what makes a film great.

This may come across more as ramblings than anything of worth, but at the heart of this film are at least two very important principles and ideals . This film is about ideals, yet there’s some ideals that are conveyed via the action and story line while never being verbally expressed in the film itself.  I’ll address both those ideals that were communicated as well as those that were depicted. 

The first ideal is this notion of human decency. Stewart’s character is hallmark of this ideal almost to an extreme. This standard juxtaposed next to corruption paints a very clear picture of a world that is black and white, and easy to understand. While we could easily observe that such is not reality, there is strength in depicting ideals because it paints a picture of where we want to be and characteristics that we would like to work towards obtaining. On the contrary, to attempt to depict  a world of reality in its muttled shades of gray looses that glow and the attraction that only ideals can produce. 

This leads to the second point which is not verbally expressed in the film, but instead is very effectively shown — the endurance and character that is required to maintain ideals.  This is the very essence of the entertainment value of this film – the endurance required of the main character to achieve the ideals for which he represented. 

(Parenthetically, this is what I’ve never seen effectively depicted in a missionary movie. Yet, there are many a missionary that have suffered such endurance in the name of conviction to the Gospel of Christ that we should be able to tell at least one such story. These are the stories that compel us; these are the stories that engage us and lift us up to want to be better than who we are, that make us look at life optimistically and full of hope. )

Capra milks this second point to very end of the film, allowing the audience to never know whether that endurance will pay off until the very end of the film when the main character had literally given his all to maintain his ideals. This is a great trait of master film making, particularly because it so closely reflects the light of an eternal truth– that we never can know the outcome until we’ve endured the trial of our faith, the testing of our convictions. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, it couldn’t hurt to revisit this old classic again. Good Night. 

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Brent is married to a very supportive woman, is father of a large family, and went into business for himself in 2006.

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