Saturday, September 4, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird. A

I just recently engaged myself in another viewing of To Kill a Mockingbird, that after seeing it once before and reading the famous book it's based on (but I did not know until recently the rumor that Truman Capote, who inspired the character Dill, either wrote or heavily edited the novel). Obviously I knew the story well, but seeing it again really made me realize one, how dark the film really is, and two, how pleasing it is to look at. The latter has to do with the stunning use of black and white and Russell Harlan's cinematography. The night time scenes are especially memorable, as Harlan shoots everything as if it's Halloween night (ironically, it is Halloween at the end of the movie). Legendary composer Elmer Bernstein's moody and diverse score also contributes to the overall effect. In AFI's list of the greatest heroes and villains of all time, Atticus Finch is listed as the greatest hero of all time, above such names as Superman, Indiana Jones, and James Bond. I think what makes Finch so great is his self-control. In one of the best scenes in the movie, an evil man spits at Finch's face just after Finch has learned his court case is lost. You can see the rage bubbling up inside Finch and know how much he wants to beat up that man. And we also know that if he fought, there would be no contest. But instead, Finch just stands there in silence, tense and furious, and then walks to his car and leaves. That is in fact a greater victory than any physical incursion. To Kill a Mockingbird is considered a classic because it acknowledges the prevalence of racism in the South and then shows, by the example of Atticus Finch, how one ought to deal with it. But I love the movie for different reasons. I like it because of the story of the kids, because the mystery surrounding Boo Radley, and because of scenes like the one I mentioned above. The movie establishes a calm atmosphere in a desolate town that is broken up by racial tension. I admire the movie most before before that tension arises. But one can't deny that when it does, some of the most important themes in fictional storytelling are brought up.

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