BP’s Top 100 Challenge #72: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Sarah Brinks
I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list has a good number of films I hadn’t seen before so it is a good source for my challenge.
I haven’t seen or read To Kill a Mockingbird since my high school English class, and it wasn’t a story I responded to at that point in my life. I’m glad that this challenge gave me a reason to return to this film because I had a much better response to it this time around.
I still have some structural problems with the film, which I also had with the book when I first read it. To me, the most interesting part of the story is the courtroom drama about Tom Robinson. If the movie was a sandwic,h the Tom Robinson trial is the meat and the bread is all the stuff with Boo Radley and the kids. I understand that you need the bread to make a sandwich it is just not the most interesting place to focus your attention. That being said, I connected more to the Boo Radley storyline than I did when I was fifteen.
I was surprised by how touched I was by the film this time. After Atticus loses the trial and all the African American spectators in the upper gallery stand up for him as he passes brought me to tears. Atticus is a power for good in a community that is so steeped in prejudice and ignorance, that even though he lost, the black community recognized that he fought for what was right and they respect that.
Atticus is certainly an idealistic character, but he is also a struggling father and lawyer. Gregory Peck’s performance in the film is perfect for the character. He hits the righteous notes at the right pitch as well as the quieter moments. He gives great monologues and speeches throughout the film but one of my favorite moments was when he is sitting outside on the porch swing listening to Scout and Jem talk about his dead wife. You see the pain and loss all over his face. But as soon as the judge walks up to talk to him about the Tom Robinson case he pulls himself together again. It is so sad and so authentic, and painted him as a very realistic character.
I had been holding on to an opinion about To Kill a Mockingbird since high school and I am glad I was able to give it a second chance. I still wasn’t very wild about all the scenes with Scout and Jem and Dill, but several of the scenes were charming and it does round out the rest of the story.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
To Kill a Mockingbird ranking: Cruiser