Tuesday, 23 February 2016

February Blindspot: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962
Directed by Robert Mulligan
Nominated for 8 Oscars (including Best Picture)
Won 3 Oscars, including Best Actor 

Told mostly from the viewpoint of young Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird is about a small Southern USA town that comes to face a controversial trial over a black man accused of rape. Scout’s father is the town’s prominent lawyer, Atticus Finch, and Atticus is defending the young black man against these rape charges, and trying to protect his children from the prejudices of the people around them.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a book I was supposed to read in 10th grade English class. Key word being “supposed to”. To Kill a Mockingbird was a book I skimmed at best, and decided to talk with friends and nap when we watched the movie in class. However, this is a film I’ve come to see is a classic, and is the film that won Gregory Peck his (only!?) Oscar. And anything that wins Gregory Peck an Oscar is definitely worth watching, to me.

My thing with To Kill a Mockingbird (and these are all problems from the book, I imagine), is that it hasn’t aged particularly well. Much of the story and the points it was making were just so very on the nose. So much of the various evidence in the courts is so convenient, and never for a second are we left to wonder whether Tom Robinson, the black man accused of rape, whether really did it or not. To me, the moral of the story was just knocking me over the head with what it was trying to say, when it really could’ve been a lot more delicate. Maybe it’s just a product of it’s time, I don’t know. That doesn’t mean the movie isn’t affective at times. The story is definitely interesting, as most racism stories like this usually are. I just personally like a little more subtlety.

Personally, I found Scout to be incredibly annoying. I didn’t hate her, I just found her irritating because child actors in the 60s all kind of acted the same, and were never very natural actors. While I do give the young actress who played Scout a little more leeway (she was much better than the other two child actors), I still found her kind of awkward to watch. However, Gregory Peck I could watch for days. How cool is that man? I need to make a note to myself to watch more of his movies, because I just really, really like him. While this part wasn’t particularly showy for Peck, it’s nice to know he has an Oscar (this was his last nomination he ever received).

In the end, while I don’t think the story has aged well (this I blame on the book), the movie itself is well-structured and well-shot. The use of black and white is, again, a little heavy-handed, was still a nice touch to the tone of the movie. Peck is fantastic and child stars from the past are always so hard to watch (for the most part). However, to Kill a Mockingbird is worthy of its classic status, and is a movie I’m definitely glad I was able to see!


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