Monday, April 30, 2012

Film Review: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

One of the greatest films of all time.
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     TCMDb: A young girl grows up fast when her lawyer father defends a black man accused of raping a white woman.
Gregory in between scenes of To Kill
a Mockingbird. 
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     They say that perfection doesn't exist, which for most things is true, but for me, this film is perfect. There's not one thing I don't like about To Kill a Mockingbird; I could watch it a dozen times in one sitting if left to my own devices, and I'd still never get tired of it.
     So, you may be asking, is this review going to be biased? Yes, yes it is. And I'm going to relish in it.
     Gregory Peck had been in the movies since 1944, and in the eighteen years between 1944 and 1962, he had played a multitude of characters: an unorthodox priest; a gentile who, for the sake of bringing the truth to light, pretends to be a Jewish man; and a reporter who only wants a story about a princess, but in the process falls in love with her. He was a versatile man who could do anything and be anyone. Yet, it wasn't until he stepped into the shoes of Atticus Finch that he found the fictional man that he was most akin to. A man who was only meant to breathe life through the pages of Lee Harper's novel, but whom came to life in the most magical of ways, and has since gone on to inspire many people to the point where Atticus Finch has become more than just a figment of our minds, but a flesh and blood and bone human being.
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch; Atticus Finch
as Gregory Peck.
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     Gregory once said about his role as Atticus: "I put everything I had into it--all my feelings and everything I had learned in forty-six years of living; about family life and fathers and children. And my feelings about racial justice and inequality and opportunity." Those feelings and everything that he had learned in those years served him very well. Never before has a father's love for his children been caught so well on film. As is everything about To Kill a Mockingbird, it is real.
Father and daughter: Atticus and the one and only, Scout.
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     As a girl, Atticus would be the kind of father I would want if I already didn't have my own father. He's everything that a child wants his or her father to be: loving; understanding; caring; wise; and willing for you to make your own mistakes and learn from them, and no matter what, always proud of you. Gregory's relationship with Scout, played Mary Bedham, was so real that even after the film was over, Bedham says that they stayed in contact with each other; until he died, they called each other Atticus and Scout.
Jem, Atticus, and Scout.
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     To Kill a Mockingbird, as they like to say, has "stood the test of time". It has been able to simply because even today, there is racial injustice and inequality, though not as mainstream as it was back then, and as long as there is, this film will always be as powerful as it was when it was originally released on December 25, 1962 (coincidence, I think not).
     I remember the first time I saw this film, I was completely balled over. It was so powerful, so moving, I couldn't help but feel as though my whole being was humming. I was moved by Gregory's performance as Atticus, I decided that when I have children, I want them to be just like Jem and Scout: inquisitive, adventurous, honest, loving; I was moved by Robert Duvall's portrayal of Boo Radley. He had the least amount of screen time as anybody, but yet, he was able to convey every emotion and thought that he needed to in less than ten minutes of screen time.
The almost ghostly Boo Radley.
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     Over the course of his career, Gregory was nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Actor. The first time in 1944 for the film The Keys of the Kingdom which was only his second film, then he was nominated for his work in The Yearling (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), and the last one before his 1962 nomination for To Kill a Mockingbird was Twelve O'Clock High. I've seen all of these films, and if I think he should have won any other nomination out of the listed it would be either The Keys of the Kingdom or Gentleman's Agreement. The important thing, however, is that he won for the role where, as Lee Harper said, "In that film, the man and part met." Had he not, it would probably be one of the biggest blunders that the Academy could have possibly have ever made.
Gregory and the well-deserved Oscar.
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     My praises for this film are indefinite. I can only say that if you haven't watched this film yet, do so. And as you watch it, remember to, as Atticus says, "climb into his skin and walk around in it a bit". You'll love this film, I promise. I give To Kill a Mockingbird 4/4 stars.

1 comment:

Friendship SMS said...

When you read the book you feel as if an innocent child is talking to you...telling her story. It is the sweetest book i have ever read. If you consider yourself a reader then this classic must be a proud member of your library.