The Michigan Times

The Mockingbird Lives On

Justin Shanlian

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“To Kill a Mockingbird” is a classic film that has stood the test of time and is just as poignant now as it was when it made its debut in 1962.

The film is set in Alabama  during The Great Depression and is just as much of a political crime novel as it is a novel about the struggles of being a single father.

While the book focuses more on Scout’s coming of age, the film takes a different direction as it centers on Scout’s father, Atticus, defending Tom Robinson as he stands accused of rape. The film was groundbreaking in its portrayal of race relations and inequality during the Great Depression in the Deep South.

Directed by master filmmaker Robert Mulligan, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of the greatest films of all time and still has a lasting impression of the nation’s zeitgeist even to this day.

The film’s lead Gregory Peck flawlessly portrays the character of Atticus Finch. Peck is strong, intelligent and is quite subdued in his portrayal of this American icon that won him the Academy Award for Best Actor. Furthermore, his role as Atticus Finch was named the American Film Institutes greatest Film Hero in 2003, beating out the likes of Batman, Superman, Indiana Jones, Rocky Balboa and James Bond.

Screenwriter Horton Foote did an amazing job of adapting this book to screen, and was able to bring together all those themes and striking aspects that were found in the book and gave them the life that they needed.

The courtroom scene is acclaimed as one of the most important and crucial scenes in cinema history. That scene has so many wonderful moments and incorporates so many shades of racial and personal tension. The moment when all the black audience members that overlooked the courtroom stand up for Atticus as he exits the courtroom is simply stunning.

Brock Peters, Mary Bedham and Estelle Evans are wonderful in their roles as well. The strength of the supporting actors’ performances makes Peck’s performance shine even brighter. Whenever Peck is onscreen as Finch he is always front and center and if you look even closer at Harlan’s compositions Finch is always the biggest person in the room; he towers over everyone, and rightfully so.

There are reasons why high schools across America still show this film to their classes so many years later. Just like Harper Lee’s novel, it is a classic that continues to teach important lessons that are still relevant for students today. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a masterpiece and will be talked about and praised for generations to come.

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