Friday, April 29, 2011
T Is For...
T Is For...To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee's prose is exquisite, her words are so rich and vibrant to me that they are like a song in my head as I read. Every page is fluid, flowing like a stream, sometimes it meanders, at other times is a swift current drawing me along into the rapids. It is a story that has complex layers and great depth. It appears on the surface to be a simple story told from the memories of a young girl and indeed it is renowned for its warmth and humor. But, it has layers of shadow that haunt, dealing with the themes of rape and racial inequality.
Lee's characters are so rich and visceral that they leap from the pages straight into my mind's eye. Scout is so smart and sweet, Jem an incredible, but trying big brother. Then there is Atticus. Atticus Finch is my ideal hero. Although I love a good physical fight, to me an intelligent person who can wage war with words and conscientious actions is beyond compare. My favorite scenes are those where Atticus imparts life lessons to his children.
I cannot tell you how many copies I have gone through with my dog-earring, my margin notes and the multiple readings. Two years ago, my brother gave me a collector's edition boxed copy. It is my most prized gift ever, sitting on my shelf in a prominent place.
This post is getting really long so it is on with the film. I've lost count on how many times I have seen this movie. Robert Mulligan directed and Horton Foote wrote this Oscar-winning 1962 movie. Foote managed to capture the heart and spirit of the novel with his script, something rarely seen in adaptations while Mulligan's directorial vision and Russell Harlan's cinematography are a wonder to behold.
The incomparable Gregory Peck stars as Atticus Finch and to me, he truly does embody this amazing character. He is gentle, wise and strong. Peck became synonymous with this role and Atticus Finch was named as the greatest movie hero of all time by the American Film Institute in 2003. Peck was so taken with the story that he wrote this forward in the 1962 edition of the book. "The Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama reminds me of the California town I grew up in. The characters of the novel are like people I knew as a boy. I think perhaps the great appeal of the novel is that it reminds readers everywhere of a person or a town they have known. It is to me a universal story - moving, passionate and told with great humor and tenderness."
The rest of the cast are exceptional as well. Young Mary Badham is Scout and she absolutely captures the innocence, the attitude and the wonder of the book's heroine. She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Philip Alford is brilliant as older brother Jem while Brock Peters as Henry Robinson is electrifying. His eyes and expressions go right through you. Not to mention Robert Duvall makes his big screen debut as the reclusive Boo Radley.
Here's a little taste of this magnificent film