To Kill a Mockingbird
Directed by Robert Mulligan
Written by Horton Foote based on the book by Harper Lee
content warning: the dog dies
This is one of those classics which has been weighing on me. I should have seen it before. I should have read the book. I have the book, on my shelf, unread and waiting. Well, I had a sick day and I didn’t want to watch something with subtitles so this was the pick. It’s just lovely. The whole movie has a gentle tone to it, a general niceness. I guess you get that with movies centred around kids.
I hate that the message of this film is still relevant why can’t we leave racism in the past? I hate it. I hate how the news keeps having the names of people of colour gunned down in America. Maybe this movie should be compulsory viewing every week for every white American.
My favourite scene was Scout, Jem and Dil inadvertently breaking up the lynch mob. It’s such a perfect moment to show just how much the kids don’t understand about what’s going on. The tension is real when you see the men walk up on the courthouse, it’s been building. And you worry for Atticus because he’s in their way, but then the kids appear and it’s lovely? Like the best possible outcome of a lynch mob scene?
Overall it’s a great slice of life, a portrait of a small town, a coming of age/family story, a compelling court case and a feel good movie. It covers a lot, and it’s not short, but it never feels slow. The actors are all superb and the script is great.
I put a content warning up there for a dog dying but I have to point out that it’s like… very well handled, it makes sense for the plot and it’s not at all played for pain. It helps that much of the nasty stuff other than that happens off screen. Deaths and such, even the bit where Jem and Scout are jumped is somewhat obscured so you’re not too sure what’s going on.
Does it make me love the people? Yes, one hundred percent. Atticus Finch is a wonderful, kind and just lawyer who does his job conscientiously and with compassion. His pain when things go badly is real, it’s beautifully acted and your heart hurts for him watching it. Scout and Jem are great characters, and you can’t help but love them too. Then Boo, I had this part of the story spoiled for me (I think by reading Beautiful Creatures?) but still, it’s a wonderful character and sub plot.
Bechdel test: Yes Scout talks to Calpurnia about what she should be wearing and about the mad dog, also about Scouts manners at lunch with Walter but that’s partially about Walter.
Atticus: If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.
State of Mind: Loved it to bits. Will definitely watch again and bumping the book to the top of my to read pile. Will watch again, recommend to everyone, just generally really happy that I watched this one.