Sunday, September 21, 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird is a film from 1962 based on Harper Lee's novel of the same name. It stars Gregory Peck and Mary Badham in the roles of Atticus and Scout Finch respectively. It follows the adventures of Scout, her brother Jem and a friend of theirs, Dill Harris in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930s. As a piece of classic cinema, it's already gotten a lot of praise over the decades.
I figure it needs some more, because this is a great film.
Scout Finch is the daughter of Atticus Finch, a lawyer in small town Alabama. The people in the town are too poor to pay him for his services, so they exchange food and resources for courtroom representation.
Atticus gets appointed to represent a black man by the town judge. The man was accused of rape and because this is the 1930s, they have to go through special effort to keep the people of the town from hanging him. The children find out about this and, innocent as they are attempt to figure out what the peoples problems are with him.
This is where the statements of the movie and of the book really shine through. The children have no concept of prejudice, and no concept of why the people would wish a man dead without trial.
To be honest, I don't think this movie could have been made today. Despite the message it's attempting to get across, I have a feeling that point would be completely missed in favor of accusing the film of racism. Not to mention the obvious other side of the coin.
And I have a feeling that it wouldn't be able to get its message across the same way the original film did, because someone would probably inject a less tasteful agenda into it.
That's the thing about movies that try to make statements these days, they don't do them subtly. Someone always feels the need to bang the point into your head. And it makes the point all the more pointless when you present the idea as though it's inherently right and will always be right as opposed to presenting the situation and letting the audience come to their own conclusions.
On the other hand, you can easily take it too far in the other direction and leave the audience confused as to what the point was supposed to be. I suppose that's what the people who try pounding the point into your head are trying to avoid, and to be fair it's a good idea to make sure you don't make your point too broad or too specific.
But what happens over time is that people try to imitate the style of films such as this that make such good points. Somebody does it badly by going too far in one direction, or maybe just a little further than the perfectly made film did. Then it gets popular, and somebody decides to take it a little further in that same direction. Eventually it gets so overloaded that somebody takes it back in the other direction and people like that because it's a change from the standard formula these days.
Or in programmers terms:
10 Left
20 Right
30 Middle
40 Goto 10
Nice little formula for politics as well right there.
So anyways, I liked this film. It's one of the few from the early-to-mid twentieth century that I really think deserves to still be popular. I have to say that yes, it's one of my favorite films of all time. It's up there with Casablanca, Star Wars and The Godfather for me.
I give it a 9.9* rating. I'll see you next week with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.