To Kill A Mockingbird

January 24, 2010
By TheGothicGunslinger ELITE, Lakeland, Florida
TheGothicGunslinger ELITE, Lakeland, Florida
177 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"To be great is to be misunderstood" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

To Kill A Mockingbird, published in 1960 and written by Harper Lee, is one of my all-time favorite novels and remains as one of the greatest pieces of literature to ever come from America. Now, most book-to-film adaptations are never as good as the novel, though there are those rare instants where the film is actually superior to the book (Jaws, The Godfather, or Let The Right One In). This isn't the case here, though the film does indeed capture the spirit of the novel.

For those who haven't read the book, which I highly reccomend asap, To Kill A Mockingbird is about a small town in southern Alabama during the 1930's. Our main characters are a lawyer, Atticus Finch, and his two children, Jean Louise 'Scout' Finch and Jeremy Atticus 'Jem' Finch. In the novel, their lives are chronicled over the events of three years, while in the film it's only half the length. The work is most-known, though, for the trial of Tom Robinson - a a black man charged with the rape of a white female, Mayella Ewell.

As I stated earlier, the film does indeed capture the spirit of the novel, which is to be commended as most film adaptations can barely achieve that much. The set designs, the look of the characters, and the choice to use mostly unknown actors aids in bringing Harper Lee's childhood life into an on-screen reality.

However, while the spirit of the film is captured, the evolution and growth of the children seems to be quite lacking, which was a major aspect of the film. I can understand time requires films to compress events in order to keep film lengths in check, but there are moments that just feel TOO compressed; so compressed that events that occurred in a period of weeks in the novel take place all in the same day. The change from three years to 1 1/2 years is also a sad change, as the growth again feels like its being under-played for more screen-time for Atticus. Don't get me wrong, I love Atticus, but the film feels that Atticus is more important than the children, whereas the novel's ingenuity could be found in that such serious events were told through a child's eyes.

To make up for this, though, the film has many great performances, with the greatest being that of Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. Peck is absolutely phenomenal in this film, making everything one may have liked about Atticus in the book come to life. Mary Badham as Scout was also quite enjoyable, bringing that likable tomboy quality into the character. Boo Radley, Mayella and Bob Ewell, Tom Robinson, I could go on and on with how great these performances were. The choice to choose mostly unknowns helped in that it ensured 'star power' wouldn't get in the way of the tale trying to be told.

While the film version didn't do for cinema what the novel did for literature, To Kill A Mockingbird remains one of the best stories out there with heart-warming characters and a rich background. Though this film feels too abridged at times,with the character development of the children somewhat lost in the process, it still has many great performances and captures the spirit of the novel quite well.

7.5/10 - Good

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