Thursday, November 12, 2009

Writer's challenge - my favorite movie

(Note: If you want the full effect, scroll to the bottom and play the theme music while reading)

Lori at Family Trees May Contain Nuts has challenged us to write about our favorite movie. I am a confessed movie addict. But I'll admit that I prefer older movies to most of what is out right now. Among my favorites are Gaslight, Vertigo, The African Queen, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, Rear Window... well, you get the picture. But my favorite movie, the one that I watch over and over again, is To Kill a Mockingbird. It is my favorite book and usually I am disappointed in movie adaptations. But to my mind, this was perfectly done. From the casting to Bernstein's score to the cinematography, this movie truly captured the essence of Harper Lee's novel. The sense of place is so beautifully conveyed. I swear you can feel the still, thick heat and taste the dust from the roads.

There are so many wonderful scenes in this movie. From Scout rolling down the street in the old tire, to Atticus defending his client from a lynch mob in front of the jail, to Scout finally meeting Boo Radley. Her simple "Hey Boo", has got to be one of the greatest lines ever spoken. But the scene that sends chills down my spine every time I see (or read) it is the scene when Atticus is leaving the courtroom after the verdict. Scout is told "Jean Louise, Jean Louise, stand - your father is passing" as the entire balcony rises to show respect and gratitude for Atticus. I cry every time I see that scene. Isn't that the vision that we all want to have of our fathers? To know that they will stand for what is good and right when it would be so much easier to stand silent in the face of injustice?

Image compliments of google images

The major plot line concerns the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. Atticus is appointed to defend him at trial, and the majority of the movie shows the ways that this affects his family. But I've always felt that the main character in To Kill Mockingbird is the town of Maycomb, Alabama itself. The townspeople are the same group of people that you know from your own town, seen through the eyes of Atticus' children, Jem age 10 and Jean Louise, better known as Scout, age 6. And Maycomb has it's own version of the bogeyman, Arthur Radley, known as "Boo" to the children. Boo is reputed to be crazy, a monster who stabbed his own father with a pair of scissors, someone to be terrified of. But Jem and Scout are naturally curious about this strange man, sneaking up and trying to see in the house to get a glimpse of him. At one point, Boo leaves them little gifts hidden in a knothole of a tree. When his father discovers this, he cements over the hole. The children finally get to meet Boo at the end of a long and terrifying night, when he saves them from the father of the woman who falsely accused Tom of raping her.

Image courtesy of google images (Robert Duval in one of his first movie roles)

Ultimately, To Kill A Mockingbird is my favorite movie because it takes me back to my own childhood. It makes me remember the wonder and awe of being a child, when the simplest things were often the best. And it makes me laugh when I remember the people and places that scared the tar out of me. As we get older we realize that people are not always what they appear to be, for good or bad. And many times the people that we fear because they are "different" are often the best people around us. This movie reminds me that sometimes the most ordinary things in our lives are really the most extraordinary.

I think Scout sums it up best in one of her last narrative lines in the movie:

"Neighbors bring food with death, and flowers with sickness, and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a knife, and our lives."

If you've not seen this adaptation of Harper Lee's seminal novel, run, don't walk to your nearest video store and rent it. Or better yet, buy the anniversary edition. It is full of neat extras and wonderful liner notes. And if you've never heard the soundtrack, give that a spin as well. Bernstein was a true genius in conveying place and mood through his music. His score is brilliant, invoking the sense of wonder and magic that is a child's world.


Lori E said...

You know I have this book on my bedside table right now. Somehow I never read it before and though I have seen the movie it was many, many years ago and I really don't remember much about it.
I didn't recognize Robert Duvall. Wow.
I was surprised to learn that Harper Lee was a woman. That is when I bought the book. I thought it would be a different perspective on the subject back in that decade than what a man would write.
I will rent this and watch it again. I can tell it will be a movie I will love.
...soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a knife and our lives.....each gift in the tree was a step towards the final one. Their lives.
Thank you so much for participating in the Writer's Challenge. I think you made a great choice and your wrote about it beautifully.

Blondie's Journal said...

Very well written, Kathy, although all of your posts are. You have inspired me to read the book and see the movie. I'm not sure why the book was not required reading for me in school, but I am slowly working through some classics I never read. Thanks so much. If you have a chance to look at your movie. let me know if it has the CC on it for Closed Caption. Better to know that before I order it.

Thanks, Sweetie!!


Belle (from Life of a...) said...

You're so right...what a wonderful movie. I haven't watched it in probably ten years or going to put it in my Netflix queue right now!!!

Michelle said...

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is one of my all time favorite movies. So many stories all intertwined and I love the the way it's narrated. Even the names of characters just fit the movie so well.

Great choice!

xinex said...

Thanks, Kath, for introducing this to me. Sounds like something I will enjoy. Looks like we have the same taste in movies cause everything you mentioned are my faves too. And seems like we both read Greg Iles books too. I have not seen it and I am adding it on Netflix right now....Christine

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Kath, that is a real goodie! It was always one of my favorite movies, and you did a great review!


Sheila :-)

Happy To Be/ Gl♥ria said...

wonderful post Kat I didn't even remember Robert Duval being in it.I have this movie will now watch it again thanks...Hope you have a great weekend my friend..hugs and smiles Gloria

Phyllis AROUND THE HOUSE said...

It is one of my favorite movies, love it and loved the book, I am a new follower of yours, come for a visit.

jennifer said...

We need to watch that movie (as a family) again soon. I think my children would get more from it now than they did the first time that we watched it.

Truly a classic.

Joyce said...

A timeless classic and your writing makes me want to run out and rent it again today even if I have viewed it countless times.

glamah16 said...

An oldie but a goodie! They really don't craft films like this anymore.My mother and I would watch this movie over and over , every time it came on.

ann said...

i love it when you drop always leave me with so much hope and faith.
well,i have good news.of course i will never go back to the pulmonary dr i took awhile but we have found me a wonderful new one.he is awesome.he is blunt,to the point,remembers his patients name AND age.WOWOWOWOW.runs
plenty of up on all the new tests .he's just awesome.
It took forever to find one,but i wantd someone someone knew and TRUSTED............
I hope your family is wel,ours is right hub has a few problems,a stye and hemmroids.of course he won't go to the dr.he's a man.haha.i do feel sorry for him tho.
i hope you're having an awesome week-end and a wonderful ya....anniepoo

My Crafty Little Page said...

Kathy, that was a wonderful review. I'm going to buy that movie so I can see it again. I first saw this in 1963...Barbara and I went to the movie...we had just met and I think this is the first time we ever hung out and we talked through the entire movie...well part of it because then we left because we were so full of ourselves!!! Who knew she would be my BFF and that I would sooo appreciate TKAM years and years later! Thanks for jogging my memory.
Yep, that is a Round Rock Dragon. He'll be at the new Cedar Ridge next year however. We were at your GTHS stadium the night that windy front blew in and nearly froze! It's a really fabulous stadium. I just love GT.
BTW...the Heritage Society here is having their Christmas home tour on the 12th. My house and two more in my neighborhood will be on the tour. I'd love it if you came. I was nuts to agree but my two neighbors have fabulous houses so it would be worth it.
Thanks for the wonderful post.
xoxo Nancy

susan said...

This is also on my list in my profile. I LOVE it--evertything about it (the book first). Have you read John Grisham's "A Time to Kill"? It was his first book before he had a bestseller. It reminds me very much of "To Kill..."Think you would like it if you have not read it.

Andi's English Attic said...

It's also my favourite book and I think the film is one of the best adaptations. I used to know someone whose aunt actually watched Gregory Peck filming the courtroom scene.
A couple of years ago we were watching one of those 'Your Top 100Heros' programmes. It reached no.2and I cried 'what about Atticus?' They'd left him out. How delighted I was to then discover he was NO.1! I am sure the book helped form my views today. When each of my Goddaughters reached the age of 18 I told them I had no words of wisdom to give them as they moved into adulthood, but I sent each a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird and urged them to read it, saying it had many wise things to say. Thanks for reminding me about the film. xx

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Wonderful review! I've always loved the book and the movie did it wonderful justice. Did you know that many scholars today believe that Truman Capote may have played a big role in the writing of the book as he was neighbor and best friends since childhood with the author? Harper Lee never wrote another book after TKAMB.

Confessions of a Plate Addict said...

Hi Kat! I am getting caught up after my trip and enjoyed the fabulous pictures of yours!! I also love "To Kill a Mockingbird." I didn't know until I saw the movie "Infamous" about the life of Truman Capote that he and Harper Lee were childhood friends and that the character Dill is based on him. Fascinating! I still hoot at just the thought of Scout in that ham costume!! The movie is by far the best screen adaptation ever! And who can forget Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch...perfect! Love your choice! Happy weekend...hugs...Debbie