To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Okay all, here it is, my review for the CK’s Not-So-Secret Santa Review Swap (July). You can check out The Cinematic Katzenjammer website here. Enjoy the review!
A wonderful, transcendent, socio-political drama that tackles some difficult content whilst remaining pure and liberal. “To Kill a Mockingbird” might be a little too eager and old-fashioned for some. Nonetheless, is wholly and genuinely wide-eyed, open-minded, and immaculate, which results in a universally acknowledged cinematic masterpiece. Telling a fair amount of parallel stories that eventually merge and entwine to a shocking, bittersweet ending. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is an elegant, yet harrowing, tale of anti-racism, maturity, and the ever-changing, home-grown values. It is acted and directed with unwavering honesty and unhampered brilliance. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is an invaluable film that is decidedly simply, but not easily forgotten. It wasn’t my first time viewing it, and it will not be my last.
Scout (Badham) and her brother Jem (Alford) live in Alabama during the 1930s with their father Atticus (Peck). Scout and Jem’s days are filled with childish wonder and play, with occasional trips to the Radley house to hopefully catch a glimpse of Boo (Duvall), who has never left the house. Atticus is a lawyer with a strong belief that all people who should be treated equally, much to the dismay of the townsfolk. Soon, the local judge appoints Atticus to defend a local black man named Tom (Peters) who is accused of raping and beating a local teenage girl. Not long after accepting the job, Atticus and his family begin experiencing the wrath and ignorance of the entire town.
Although “To Kill a Mockingbird” is dated and bares its message on the cuff of its sleeve. Hollywood has yet to concoct a film that even remotely touches the fear and love portrayed here or rival the overall experience of its 1962 classic. Which should speak to the level of originality on display and how timeless the film is. The characters are affectionate, intelligent, and innocent…and the extent in which these delicate, not easily replicated emotions are authentically recreated is truly baffling. Winner of three Oscars, critical acclaim, and a favourable consensus from the movie-going public, in addition to undoubtedly being a member of the cinematic canon. “To Kill a Mockingbird” has acquired an endless source of merit and numerous awards over its existence which it has full-heartedly earned and deserves.
Based upon the novel of the same title, which just so happens to be an elite member of the literary canon. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is fortunate enough to have not lost anything in the transposition, unlike the majority of screenplays adapted from their literary counterparts. Directed by Robert Mulligan, who arguably never completed a piece as illustrious as this during the remainder of his career, does a superlative job behind the camera. Whether he is capturing the genuine child-like wonder and imagination of his youthful protagonists, the moral consciousness and socially obligated burden of a handsome, vastly intelligent lawyer, or a serious accusation that leads to loss and violence. Mulligan does an absolutely phenomenal job not just capturing his cast, but complimenting them.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” is a very character driven film, requiring strenuous amounts of charisma, genuineness, and heart. Things that the cast, comprised of Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Philip Alford, Brock Peters, Robert Duvall, know precisely how to navigate and fulfill. Duvall barely garners ten minutes of screen time, but with his usual style and flare, manages to make his portrayal and character one of his most memorable. As a brother and sister duo ripe with childish wonderment and unnecessary fears, Badham and Alford are decidedly convincing. Their portrayals truly make the film unforgettable and easily relatable. Not to be forgotten is the supporting cast members who do a terrific job keeping the film grounded, becoming, and repulsive all at the same time.
Brock Peters is sort of the unsung hero. His performance is usually pushed to the wayside to make room for the more relevant, relatable characters. Despite this fact, Peters, although briefly used, does an outstanding job in his limited time on screen. His portrayal is utterly disheartening, stomach-churning, and down-right stunning. Matching Peters stride for stride, albeit in a much more appreciated and viewer-friendly role is Gregory Peck. His performance as Atticus Finch is easily one of his best. Doing his utmost to be an attentive and nurturing single parent, as well as firm with his two children. Peck absorbs and exudes the very essence of what it means to struggle and thrive. Despite having to deal with being thrust into a moral conundrum while his children fight with growing-up, Peck manages to appease every facet of his character.
Impeccably acted and superbly directed. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is an undisputed classic and will continue to be an important part of cinematic history for years to come.
To Kill a Mockingbird: 9.5 out of 10.