Sunday, 14 April 2013

To Kill a Mockingbird

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (BLACK AND WHITE, 1962)

Director
Robert Mulligan

Cast
Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford, John Megna, Frank Overton, Collin Wilcox Paxton, Rosemary Murphy, Brock Peters, Ruth White, Paul Fix, Estelle Evans, Robert Duvall, James Anderson and Richard Hale

Ages
7 and up

Plot
Atticus Finch (Peck) is a widower and lawyer in Alabama during the Great Depression. He has two children, Scout (Badham) and Jem (Alford), who befriend their visiting neighbour, oddball Dill (Megna). Atticus is then asked by the sheriff (Overton) to take on an unpopular case where he has to defend a black man Tom Robinson (Peters) who has been accused of raping Mayella (Paxton), the daughter of a white man, Bob Ewell (Anderson). Meanwhile, the three children worry about a slightly spooky neighbour named Boo Radley (Duvall). Later, Atticus proves Tom’s innocence, but he cannot save him from the racist town. It costs Atticus many friendships, but he earns respect from his own children. 


Atticus Finch (Peck) defending Tom Robinson (Peters).
Why it’s good
I had just come back from a children's book club discussion this morning where we discussed books. I like reading, yes, and I also like movies, too.   

One of the topics we talked about at the book club was “books made into movies – which one is better, the book or the movie?” The one which came to my mind first was this book and this film, as To Kill a Mockingbird is an all-time classic in American literature.  I mentioned it; and the girl sitting opposite me said she watched it too. And she was about my age. And she liked it. It was black and white, she commented.

So the film is still fondly remembered and it is a really great movie. I read the first few chapters of the novel, and it was a totally great book.

The values in the movie are good. We should not discriminate others by skin colour and that we should always stick to our principles. Are the townspeople right to capture Tom Robinson? Would it be different if the whole thing happened today? All of the movie’s themes are great subjects for debate.

I also learned about the mockingbird from this movie.  "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.  That's why it's a sin to kill a mocking bird."

And most uniquely, the story is told from a little girl (Scout)'s perspective.  This makes it easy for children to identify with the movie.

Trivia
Harper Lee’s only novel and Dill’s character is based on her childhood friend writer Truman Capote (who wrote “In Cold Blood”).

Parent’s guide
A dog is shot by Atticus. A boy's arm is broken by another character toward the end of the film, but only some tussling is shown.

If you like this…:
Other dramas which explore similar themes about discrimination against blacks in America: "12 Angry Men" (1957) and "In the Heat of the Night" (1967) .         

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