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At Home: To Kill a Mockingbird

Posted on the 03 February 2012 by Desertofreel @Kob_Monney

At Home: To Kill a Mockingbird

There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ‘em all away from you. That’s never possible.

Cinema is filled with virtuous role models and noble characters but there are few better than Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch. I haven’t read Harper Lee’s book (I must admit, despite studying film/literature at university I had no idea what the book was about), so I came into the film with few expectations and found To Kill a Mockingbird to be an absolutely terrific film about racism in the Depression-era south.

Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) is a lawyer in an Alabaman town in the 1930s that’s beset by racial prejudices. When a young black man is accused of assaulting a white woman Finch agrees to be his lawyer and prove his innocence, but will the truth come out and the right person walk free?

I initially expected the film to be told from the perspective of Peck’s Atticus but surprisingly it’s told from the viewpoint of his son and daughter, who witness the escalating racial tensions in the town as well as confront their own prejudices/world views. It’s a brilliantly simple and effective way of introducing the topic of race through their nascent, undeveloped perspective. They come to understand the world and its complexities, of how right and wrong are not, ahem, so black and white while Peck’s paternal Finch tries the best he can to nurture them with the right philosophy. It’s eminently watchable and the acting (especially from the kids) is of a high standard.

Finch tries as much as he can to shield them from the dangers of the world (his job complicated as he’s a single father). He’s a protector: an advocator of truth and a responsible man who doesn’t rise to provocation and insists on the fairness and purity of justice; the levelling factor in contentious matters in which you hope prejudices can be put aside.

The last twenty minutes veer between being demoralising and uplifting, bringing the film’s themes of justice, bigotry, fairness and fear and making a point on how prejudice blinds people to the truth (fairly obvious) and the value of our actions in a society that blames others to cover up it’s own ills. A classic, old fashioned example of Hollywood storytelling.



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