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Reel Views: Catch a classic: To Kill a Mockingbird

Alison McGee | Interrobang | Lifestyles | February 13th, 2012

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

As much as Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic work of fiction, so too is Director Robert Mulligan's 1962 film of the same name a classic work of cinema.

Perhaps you're familiar with the story of To Kill a Mockingbird. Perhaps you, like so many before you, were privileged enough to get to study this powerful story in depth at some point during your education. Perhaps you're even lucky enough to have seen the film version before. Regardless, now you have the chance to be among the lucky ones who get the chance to watch the classic story of Scout, Atticus and Boo Radley unfold before you on the big screen.

To Kill a Mockingbird brings to life the story of Atticus Finch, a lawyer in America's Deep South during the Great Depression. Atticus must defend a young African-American man for a crime that he did not commit and teach his two young children to be tolerant of other people amidst the fierce racism of the time. Finch's young daughter Scout embarks on her own adventures, most of which revolve around the family's mysterious neighbour, Boo Radley.

The cast of To Kill a Mockingbird holds as much clout in the world of classic cinema as the film itself does. Gregory Peck gives the performance for which he won an Academy Award as smalltown lawyer Atticus Finch. In the way that only Peck can, the cinema legend offers the audience wisdom, patience and a deep understanding of human nature. Besides his deeply moving performance, Peck brings an atmosphere of entertainment and lightness to an otherwise heavy film.

Stepping into the role of young Scout Finch is Mary Badham in her debut film role. Scout is a rambunctious, complex character, especially for such a young girl, but Badham is able to bring to life each of Scout's idiosyncrasies with a charming innocence. Yet, by the film's conclusion, Badham is also able to easily portray Scout's wisdom that is well beyond her years.

Also of note in the cast of To Kill a Mockingbird is Robert Duvall as the mysterious Boo Radley, Phillip Alford as Scout's brother Jem and Brock Peters as Tom Robinson, Atticus' defendant. Each member gives a stunning performance that serves to augment the rest, creating a strong cast of characters to watch on screen.

Not only is the acting stellar in To Kill a Mockingbird, but the story is timeless; the lessons that Atticus and Scout, and through them, the viewer, learn about tolerance, justice and equality are lessons that must not be forgotten.

Even if you had to read this book in your high school English class and you think the film is going to be a drag, you should give it a chance. To Kill a Mockingbird is truly one of cinema's classic works.

To Kill a Mockingbird is playing at the Cineplex Odeon Westmount and VIP Theatre on February 15 at 9 p.m. and on February 19 at 12:30 p.m.

Rating: 4 out of 5
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