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).
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!
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