Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Askewed Review: "To Kill a Mockingbird"

I am on a never ending quest to repair the damage that my youth caused. Namely I am trying to play catch up and see all of the movies that I should have seen. After a suggestion (and some slight urging) I decided a good place to start would be “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

The Basics
Taking place in the 1930s In the small town of Maycomb Alabama a black man is accused of raping and beating a white woman. There is only one lawyer in town willing to take on the case, that man is Atticus Finch.

Atticus is a widowed father of two, his children Scout and her brother Jem spend their summers with their new friend Dill. They explore the town, play games, and discuss “Boo” Radley the local “madman” (at least according to town legend and Dill's Aunt). That is until the trial starts and the kids start to learn just how harsh and unfair the world around them can be.

What worked for me
One of the first things that came to my mind as soon as I was done watching the movie was that I couldn't actually classify it to just one genre. There are elements of a coming of age story, Scout, Jem, and Dill living, playing, and growing up in a small town. Then there are the some very suspenseful elements, the kids investigating “The Radley Place”. There is even a bit of family drama with Atticus doing what he can to raise his kids up correctly. Top that all off with a nice little chunk of courtroom drama and you stay may not have cracked more than just the surface of all that is going on!

My lord, has there ever, or can there ever be a man in the history of movies who is better than Atticus Finch? What a great character, a hero in the truest sense of the word. Win or lose what matters is he never compromised himself or his beliefs. Gregory Peck was really a highlight of the movie for me...Did I mention how great I think Atticus is?

The movie definitely takes its time getting where it is going. Even so there really isn't any dead moments, everything in the 2+ hours seems very deliberate. Even the few small tangents that are taken are well placed and help you really get to know and care about the characters and the situations that they are in.

Final Thoughts
The two paragraph “basics” story summary that I put up there honestly doesn't do the movie anything near justice. I intentionally chose to keep it short, had I let myself go I could have easily gone on and on and on (in fact in a first draft I did). That really wouldn't have served any good purpose, what I am hoping my briefness will achieve is to convince at least one person as I was convinced to rent “To Kill a Mockingbird” and be blown away (again just as I was) by it.

For what it is worth I have added this to my shortlist of movies to buy. I made the decision a few days after watching it when I realized how much I was thinking about it, multiple viewings I am sure will bring out new realizations and a new appreciation for the film. As I said there is a lot to absorb.

As I said this movie made me think a lot, especially about racism and injustice and what a truly messed up place this world has been (and can be) at times. The fate of Tom Robinson after the trial is heartbreaking, and Bob Ewell's attack on Jem and Scout is very disturbing. Of course the attack leads to the revelation of “Boo” Radley (a silent but still expressive and young Rober Duvall).

I like to add pictures and screen shots to my writings quite often, just to break things up a bit. This time I really want to bring attention to one of my favorite moments in TKaMB, the scene in the court room after the jury's decision came in. Even when the rest of the courtroom has cleared out the uppers section (the black section) waits for Atticus to leave, standing as he does so showing their respect for the man who fought for one of their own when nobody else would.

In summary (isn't it a little bit late for me to be summing things up?) I give “To Kill a Mockingbird” a surprising and mighty pollex up!

....now stop reading my tripe and go rent it for yourself!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I remember my first experience with this movie way back when I read the book for English 10. I remember a lot of my fellow classmates scoffing at the idea that it was in black and white; but how I thought just that subtle nuance was compelling. Granted they didn't have color television back then, but still it brought forth the theme of that movie. The clear definition between black and white.

I remember sitting there at times with tears in my eyes at the blatant hatred they casted upon a family simply because it was fathered by a man with integrity. A man who stood for the principle of defending those who are innocent despite race, gender, status etc. I cheered for the hero and scoffed at the ignorant fools that couldn't see how truly a wonderful character, Gregory Peck was. Then came the court scene and how they stood up as he sulked out of the courtroom. It gave one a sense of hope that even despite great divides between people, there still could be just one moment where everyone was equal. It made me look around at my own surroundings and happen to notice the lack of individuality between us.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a wonderful movie and I agree completely with your review! Like my classmates had to do, it requires you to look beyond the color or lack of color and see the true person within. Thanks for sharing! Now go read the book..HAHA! :)

Anonymous said...

Oops...idiot me was in such a "typewriter" mode last night, I forgot to sign my name. The aforementioned English major stance on To Kill a Mockingbird is mine. Geez, in rereading it this morning after sleep..it almost sounds like a regurgitation of the paper I wrote afterwards. :P Did land an A on it though! :)

Ash

The McGuffin said...

Great review, Pierce...you nailed all the high spots with pinpoint accuracy...aces! Buy it as soon as possible, it gets better and better with each viewing. Mockingbird is a tough one to pin down and write about, even though it might seem slow and passive at times, there is so much going on. Good vs. evil…social mores…etc. Atticus Finch was summed up perfectly…”There are some men in this world who are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us…your father’s one of them.”

Mockingbird really hits me where it counts. It was one of my father’s favorite movies and like you pointed out, the scene that always got to him was the end courtroom scene…”your father’s passing…” Plus, he raised me and my sister (I never really knew my mother) all by himself and as a joke, we would call him Atticus from time to time. That would always settle him down when he got pissed at us kids for playing ball in the house Bobby Brady style. He recently passed away, but I still watch it about 2-3 a year…a classic.

What's next on the movie docket?

Pierce said...

Come on Ash, you think I couldn't figure out your writing? I was thinking about getting the book, and I may eventually. But much like my movie list my reading list is ever full and always growing. Besides, you know that books scare me.

Robert, I'll fully admit that when I sat down to write about it I couldn't think of what to put. I sat for a full night unable to get more than a paragraph written out. Like you said, there is so much there that it is almost overwhelming. I noticed that you linked to me on your page that is awesome of you, I really liked your summary of my site. thanks again!

Your father sounds like he was a good man, I think keeping the movie close to you is a good way to help remember him. And hey, you have sort of passed it on to me, without your suggestion I may not have gotten to it for a while and I have already placed it high on my favorite list. I've even already started suggesting it to friends. Looks like a chain may have started. ...You still probably shouldn't have played ball in the house though, but kids will be kids.

Next on the docket? Tonight I am planning on "Jaws" and then maybe "A Clockwork Orange". Or I may save Clockwork for another day in case I want to write about "Jaws" in which case I'll switch it out for something fluffier, like "Wrong Turn". I don't want to overload my brain do I?

Anonymous said...

Ok ok...I suppose I have an unique writing style...but I was also dead tired when I wrote that first comment. Do I get a pardon?

Anyway, I understand the plight of books. They too scare me, however, despite their menacing covers I have to acquire them all. I will warn you there are parts of the novel that are not in the movie..and could result in a "What?" moment. So make sure you read it in private as you would hate to entertain those around you with odd faces.

Robert - That truly is a wonderful way to remember your father. For what it's worth, I am sorry for your loss eventhough it was a while ago. Time doesn't always heal as quickly as we would like it too. However, I have to agree with Pierce, anyone worthy of even in a joking manner being called "Atticus" must be a hell of a person! :) And from the sounds of your description, he indeed was.

The McGuffin said...

Thanks Pierce and Ash for the kind words. Yes, my father was a lot like Atticus Finch...but with a great, sarcastic sense of humor to boot.

Ditto to the linkage on your site, thanks!

Friendship SMS said...

Classics. Both the movie and the book. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. Everyone should read this book once in their lifetime. This edition is nice. I really like the cover too.I am one of those who like to judge the print, if not the book, by the cover.