There are no new accolades I can bestow on Robert Mulligan’s To Kill a Mockingbird that haven’t already been give. The model for adapting a great novel to film, the 1962 classic is consistently cited on one “Best of” list after another, no matter what incarnation it my take. It’s 66th on the Internet Movie Data Base’s list of the greatest movies ever made, it’s ranked #25 on a similar list by the American Film Institute, and #2 on their list of most inspiring movies, while the story’s hero, stalwart attorney Atticus Finch, was named the top screen hero in film history by the AFI. Take that Indiana Jones! (By the way, it’s Oprah’s favorite movie.)
If all of this and the fact that it contains one of the great screen performances for which Gregory Peck deservedly got the Oscar for his turn as Finch, perhaps Elmer Bernstein’s finest score and a stunning title sequence by Stephen Frankfurt that sets the poignant, melancholy tone for the film, isn’t enough to make you go see it…well, it’s your loss. As part of Universal Pictures’ 100th Anniversary Celebration, Mockingbird is being shown on the big screen on Thursday, November 15 at 7 pm at the Savoy 16, a rare opportunity that shouldn’t be passed by.
Though many of you have probably seen the film at one time or another, it’s one of those rare movies that should be revisited at various stages in your life. Age and experience allows you to see works of art with a different pair of eyes and Mockingbird reveals different shadings of characters and situations after you’re suffered some of life’s injustices or been blessed by the love of an understanding parent. The movie retains its power after multiple viewings and if anything becomes an even more moving experience as time goes by, what with the fact that features of this stature and sentiment are becoming more and more rare in this age of superhero features and superficial comedies.
More than anything, Mockingbird is the perfect film to introduce children eight years old and above to the wonders of a well-plotted movie inhabited by all too human characters. The entry point for viewers this age is the fact that the story is told through the eyes of Scout Finch, who takes the first steps towards becoming a young lady as she begins to see the world in a different light once her father agrees to defend an African-American man falsely accused of rape. Young viewers will share in Scout’s experience and the film proves to be a gentle introduction to adult themes and concerns.
Of course, viewing the movie on television at home simply isn’t the same as seeing it on a big screen with a large audience. The communal feeling that develops while watching a film with a group of strangers who come to share your own emotional investment in a story cannot be matched. As such, this opportunity to share this story with new viewers or re-experience it for yourself should not be missed.