Posted in Blogging, Movie, Review

Movie Masterpiece: To Kill a Mockingbird

I’ve decided to keep all reviews of movies/plays/TV shows for Saturday so I’m going to review the movie and tomorrow, the book. Oh, and spoiler alert, obviously.

To my shame, I’d only got around to reading the classic To Kill a Mockingbird a few weeks ago. So 18 years of my life were spent in total ignorance of such a beautiful, heartbreakingly sweet story. Today, I watched the movie, and though it isn’t as perfect and complete as the book story was, it is an amazing work of art.

The two main storylines in the film are these:

Jeremy “Jem” and Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, as well as their new friend Dill, become interested in the recluse Arthur “Boo” Radley and try to lure him out of his house.

Atticus Finch, a lawyer, is appointed by the judge to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who was charged with raping the daughter of Bob Ewell, Mayella. The actual case is that she kissed him (unacceptable in her society) after inviting him to her house, and by accusing Tom is trying to “destroy the evidence of her offense.”

The two storylines end very differently. After a sequence of events, including the children’s frightening trips to the Radley house yard, Bob Ewell’s accusal of Atticus believing Tom’s story against his, tender scenes between Atticus and Scout, Tom Robinson’s trial begins. This scene in particular wasn’t changed much from the book, kudos for that. Atticus’s speech to the jury was filmed masterfully and Gregory Peck’s acting was top-notch. Unfortunately, the prejudiced jury finds Tom guilty as charged and he ends up dying in an escape attempt.

After the despicable Bob Ewell tries to harm Jem and Scout on their way home. Ewell breaks Jem’s arm, but before he can inflict more harm, Boo saves them, killing Ewell in the process. In the end, Atticus agrees with the sheriff that dragging Arthur to court would be senseless—he would be in the limelight, which would be damaging for him with “his shy ways.” Scout points out that would be like killing a mockingbird (they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us). She leads him home and finally, he ceases to be the a scary monster in childish games, becoming a man who has observed them from a far, cared for them in his own way and ultimately saved their lives.

I cried when the courtroom scene was on screen. It was depicted with so much emotion and the unfairness of it all, just like in the book, was driving me crazy. And Tom died, as the sheriff pointed out, for no reason, although he, like a mockingbird, like Boo Radley, brought love and kindness into a dark world. Tom felt sorry for the unhappy Mayella, Boo left the children little tokens in a tree hollow. Tom is dead, and Arthur returns to a life of seclusion (thankfully after a positive episode in his life).

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I must admit, both the movie and the book changed not only the kids’ perspective of life, but mine as well. The racism, prejudice, discrimination and indifference, unfortunately, still ring true in our society. And it is these movies (and books) that give insight into the human psyche, which is especially effective if shown/told from a child’s perspective.

Overall, a firm 9.5/10 rating, the 0.5 points taken because there was one omission from the book that essentially killed a character for me.

In the books, Dill is very much like his movie counterpart, making up stories, bragging, etc., but after the kids are in the courtroom and he witnesses the people’s treatment of Tom Robinson, he cries, and that it made him “sick, plain sick.” That was the moment his character became likeable while in the movie Dill seemed very flat to me. Then again, as a whole, the motion picture is a masterpiece.

Have you watched the movie? If so, did you like it? If not, do you plan to? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Previous review: Iolanta (opera)

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Absolutely fantastic procrastinator. Creative, often irrational, hyperactive. Reader, writer, artist, photographer, film-maker, gamer.

13 thoughts on “Movie Masterpiece: To Kill a Mockingbird

  1. I’ve always liked the movie. It seems to me that the book is more the story of Scout, the narrator. In the movie, which necessarily is more “third person,” Atticus moves to the center. Partly this is because Gregory Peck gives such a strong performance, he pretty much overshadows the other actors. Being a lawyer, I also liked the courtroom scene, especially Atticus’ strategem of showing that Tom could not use his hand in a way to cause the marks on Mayella, but her father could. Touche! On a historical note, this film came out while most Southern states were still segregated by race and so the film was not shown in many Southern theaters. Too controversial, though it was set several decades before the release date.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that the book gives a more in-depth story but the film has some new takes as well. As you mentioned, it’s Atticus moving to the center – I loved seeing things from his perspective.

      The courtroom scene was really powerful, I agree. It brought me back to when I had to choose between law school and other universities, and I regretted for a moment that I didn’t choose law=D Gregory Peck is outstanding.

      I didn’t know that it wasn’t shown in many Southern states… being reminded that such segregation existed just a few decades ago gives a lot to think about.

      Thank you for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Louise I don’t know how many times I have read the book and watched the movie. It is one of the most powerful pieces of writing of all time I think. I used to teach it in a unit of study on prejudice. The movie is as you say a wonderful refection of the novel. The casting superb, the acting as you noted wonderful. Its interesting that of all the remakes we see this film has never been remade, how could you improve on Gregory Peck as Atticus. There are many wonderful scenes in the novel and the film. The children’s interaction within their neighbourhood, the mystery of the Radleys and the stories that the children want to believe about the elusive Boo. For me the most telling scene has always been the one when Scout meets Boo. I don’t know how many time sI have seen that scene and every time I cry. I think at that moment Scout meets the man she has long wondered about and discovers he is just a man but a man who despite her own fears and prejudices cares about her in his own way.
    As for Tom Robinson’s death I have always thought the story of him trying to escape was not true but used as a means then to kill him. A quick and kind death you might say…but that is my opinion in much the same way as equating him with the mockingbird image. The other thing I have carried through my life is the notion of not really being able to understand someone unless you can stand in their shoes and see the world from there perspective.
    Have a good weekend Louise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s wonderful that you had the chance to teach it! And you’re right, it’s a powerful book and the movie’s not far behind.
      The scene when Scout meets Boo is so beautiful, as you’ve mentioned. I also loved the fact that she finally meets the man she and the others have imagined as a monster and gets to see things from his perspective. It’s a great way to step into the adult world without witnessing any horrors or ‘growing up the hard way.’ And I will, too, try to carry this lesson throughout my life; not seeing things from others’ perspective can be very damaging to you and the people around you.
      I think it might have been a cover up in Tom Robinson’s case. It just makes it more tragic and horrifying… that a human being can kill another one just because he looks different. Prejudice and discrimination are terrible and we must do all we can to eliminate them from society.
      Thank you so much for your comment, Michael. I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Have a good day!

      Liked by 1 person

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