Harper Lee’s timeless novel was masterfully brought to the screen by Robert Mulligan in 1962. Mulligan has done a unique job with this adaptation, focusing more on the relationship between Atticus and the children, whilst still seamlessly incorporating all of the necessary lessons that are shown within Harper’s masterpiece.
Whilst the story itself is a metaphor for concepts such as relationships, prejudice and the insecurities of justice, the characters are what makes these concepts flourish. The character of Atticus is the quintessential peak of moral justice, the face of equality and the figure of reason. This character makes the story as more of a desperate attempt to right the wrongs of society, to put prejudice aside and to see the common goal. Atticus is portrayed as a sort of single light in a world of darkness, a strong light that will never flicker as this is a man who believes in what he see, an unjust society. Whilst told through the voice of an older Scout, the daughter of Atticus, it is extremely rewarding to view the character through the innocent eyes of a child. Calling him only by his first name and never Dad or Father, the supreme respect and pride is shown towards her role model. Harper has not only shown the prejudice that the black society suffered back then through the story, but also through the character of Boo Radley, a simple man that has a psychological disability. Boo’s character is continually constructed through varies rumours and stories, even to a point where the mother of a child said, gesturing towards the Radley household, “A maniac lives there”. There is one particular scene, in which I believe that Mulligan has successfully pulled off the disturbing realisation of the judgement that people back in that time had towards those who were different, in which Boo was represented through a shadow, a representation of evil, a scary looking shadow. Although as the story goes on, the audience is introduced to Boo as he saves both Scout and Jem’s lives, through the emphasis on the bright lighting of this scene, portraying his innocence, Mulligan has made evident that prejudice comes from the influence of those around you. This is how I see the representation of the name of the film being portrayed, through the act of malice towards those with insecurities, those who are innocent, those who are seen as representations of mockingbirds. This is why this film is so well made, as through the little cinema techniques a whole new aspect of the story is revealed in such a unique way.
The script, even though it is an adaptation from a novel, is so well made that it has become a timeless film, never aging. Atticus has a monologue in the court which is, in my opinion, one of the greatest speeches that has ever hit the screen, a cry of desperation to the people of the jury to remove the wool from their eyes and see the bigger picture. The scenes in which depict the court case are so well written, even so that it makes you completely invested in how Atticus is going to not only prove to the jury that Tom Robinson is innocent, but also to prove to himself that the world isn’t as judgmental as it seems. This points is summed up through one simple quote, the best line of the movie, in Atticus’ closing argument, he is reiterating the evidence to the jury whilst also insulting the justice system in the outrageous claim towards Tom Robinson, Atticus turns to the jury, with a face showing angst and a voice of sheer desperation, “In the name of God….Do your duty”, this line sums up the entire movie as a whole, and it is a brilliant piece of cinema. The way that Atticus disintegrates the oppositions’ arguments is nothing short of masterful, the intelligence that actor Gregory Peck brings to this role is incredible rewarding, showing the audience the figure of a man that is not afraid to stand up for what he believes in. That is what makes this film so timeless, it’s not about the colour of the film, it’s not about the quality of the sound, it is about the main message, the importance of equality and to stand up for what’s right. This is timeless as it applies to areas of society today, still ridden in racism and prejudice. Modern culture likes to think of itself as perfect, without any insecurities, whilst it is sad to know that the judgmental acts that occurred during the time of To Kill A Mockingbird still happens in many places around the world today.
To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my main points towards the argument of if the concept of storytelling can be art. The timeless perfection of characterisation and story is shown through the very direct and influential plot, it is a film that will not only make you rethink your moral ground, but will also force you to see the world in a whole new perspective.
I give this film 10/10.