TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD || 1962, USA || Drama || Directed by – Robert Mulligan / Written by – Horton Foote (based on the novel by Harper Lee) / Produced by – Alan J. Pakula, Harper Lee, Robert Mulligan, Gregory Peck / Music by – Elmer Bernstein / Cinematography – Russell Harlan / Editing by – Aaron Stell / Art direction – Henry Bumstead, Alexander Golitzen / Starring – Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Philip Alford, John Megna, Ruth White, Paul Fix, Brock Peters, Robert Duvall / Running time: 129 mins.
To Kill a Mockingbird is based on the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Harper Lee. Set in the American South during the Great Depression, it follows the story of lawyer Atticus Finch as he defends a black man in a bigoted community from an unjust rape charge, and his own children Jem and Scout from prejudice.
It’s easy to see why this film is regarded as one of the greatest American films of all time and one of the greatest book to film adaptations ever. Historically speaking, the film was particularly important as it was released in 1961, in the midst of the rise in popularity of the Civil Rights movement. But its power comes from its sheer humanity, and Rober Mulligan’s decision to remain true to the original material’s viewpoint makes it superior to other films that dealt with similar themes and were released at around the same time, as well as less preachy and self-important.
The viewpoint of To Kill a Mockingbird is directed by the remembrances of Scout, years after the events took place, and the excellent black and white cinematography work Russell Harlan is tastefully underlined by warmth and nostalgia without forgetting the threat and danger of its darkest moments. Such feelings and emotions are punctuated by a memorable original Elmer Berstein score, which is never boisterous but very important in setting the tone and mood of each of the scenes.
Atticus Finch is portrayed by Gregory Peck, in one his greatest performances with quiet dignity. Again, through the help of the cinematography that films him as nothing short of a hero, his delivery of the unforgettable speeches in the courtroom can easily be considered as noble representations of American conscience. – 5/5