25 March 2009

Filmbook: "To Kill A Mockingbird" (1962)

Ready for the most obvious Filmbook entry ever?

You must see this movie. I have no idea how I was made to study TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and yet never watched this one. How did I grow up as a girl and not ever see and admire the fearless Scout Finch?

I liked the book, but I really liked this movie. I think as far as performances, filming, building suspense, it gets everything right -- including, as you know if you've read the book, saving the biggest surprise for the last 10 minutes. Gregory Peck is pitch perfect and I was shocked to get chills in the scene where he leaves the courtroom -- chills -- from a story I already knew and had seen dramatized onstage once upon a time.

In an odd way, this movie makes me feel grateful that it was made when it was, so much closer to that time, so that I could watch it and feel like we humans have at least made a little progress in how we relate to each other. (Would that make this movie the anti-"Crash"? Discuss.) I think it will still hold up in 50 years; I guess we'll have to see.

Filmbook verdict: Well, what do you think? I think this movie could stand alone for people who had never read the book, which usually isn't the case, but I'm not sure I'd want to tell people not to read Harper Lee's original. Would love to know your opinions or arguments on either side.


Wade Garrett said...

There aren't many great novels that have been turned into great movies. Most of the great movies that are based on books are based on stuff like The Godfather, Jaws, Gone With the Wind, Mystic River - page-turning stuff that's well-executed but not "great" in the sense in which we mean it. In my opinion, no story has made for a better combination of book and movie than To Kill A Mockingbird.

Sherry said...

Excellent book, excellent movie. Experience both.