As our story opens, George's life is the opposite of wonderful. In fact, it's so un-wonderful that he's thinking of throwing it away. It reminds Shmoop of Life Is Beautiful, Roberto Benigni's film about a father and son trying to survive in a brutal concentration camp. We're all thinking: beautiful—yeah, right.
Frank Capra begs to differ. He would definitely see the beauty in Benigni's story of fatherly devotion. When George sees what the world would be like without him, he discovers, among other things, that his life really has been pretty wonderful. It's been full of friends and family who love him and depend on him. He's made a huge difference to them. The movie's message is that even if the life you're living seems average, or even a failure, in the grand scheme of things, it's important and meaningful.