Minggu, 18 Maret 2012

TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD




To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) is a much-loved, critically-acclaimed, classic trial film. It exhibits a dramatic tour-de-force of acting, a portrayal of childhood innocence (told from a matured adult understanding), and a progressive, enlightened 60s message about racial prejudice, violence, moral tolerance and dignified courage.
The Academy Award winning screenplay was faithfully adapted by screenwriter Horton Foote from the 1960 novel of the same name by Harper Lee - who had written a semi-autobiographical account of her small-town Southern life (Monroeville, Alabama), her widower father/attorney Amasa Lee, and its setting of racial unrest. [This was Lee's first and sole novel - and it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1960.] The poor Southern town of deteriorating homes was authentically re-created on a Universal Studios' set. Released in the early 60s, the timely film reflected the state of deep racial problems and social injustice that existed in the South.
The film begins by portraying the innocence and world of play of a tomboyish six year-old girl named Scout (Mary Badham) and her ten year-old brother Jem (Phillip Alford), and their perceptions of their widower attorney father Atticus (Gregory Peck). They also fantasize about a 'boogeyman' recluse who inhabits a mysterious house in their neighborhood. They are abruptly brought out of their insulated and carefree world by their father's unpopular but courageous defense of a black man named Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) falsely accused of raping a Southern white woman. Although racism dooms the accused man, a prejudiced adult vengefully attacks the children on a dark night - they are unexpectedly delivered from real harm in the film's climax by the reclusive neighbor, "Boo" Radley.
The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture (producer Alan J. Pakula lost to the epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962)), Best Director (Robert Mulligan), Best Supporting Actress (Mary Badham, sister of director John Badham, known for Saturday Night Fever (1977), Stakeout (1987), and other films), Best B/W Cinematography (Russell Harlan), and Best Music Score - Substantially Original (an evocative score by Elmer Bernstein). It was honored with three awards - Gregory Peck won a well-deserved Best Actor Award (his first Oscar win and fifth Oscar nomination) for his solid performance as a courageous Alabama lawyer, Horton Foote won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar (Foote won a second Oscar for Tender Mercies (1983)), and the team of Art Directors/Set Decorators also received the top honor. [Although Gregory Peck's inspirational performance as Atticus Finch turned out to be a perfect highlight to his long career, Rock Hudson was actually the studio's first choice for the role.]
Relationships formed during filming would last for the remainder of Gregory Peck's life -- he received the pocketwatch of Harper Lee's father; he became the surrogate father to Mary Badham; and Brock Peters delivered Peck's eulogy after his death in June of 2003.
t’s a rare that a movie captures the magic of a great book, and yet holds its own as a masterpiece of cinema. To Kill a Mockingbird does just that.
Set in a small Alabama town during the Great Depression, it raises great questions of racism, poverty, ignorance and injustice with enormous grace and emotional power. Moral and deeply humane, the movie is a classic coming-of-age story of childhood innocence lost in the segregated American south.

The Plot

In hot, dusty Maycomb County, lawyer Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) takes on the case of an innocent black man accused of assaulting a white girl. He’s up against the entrenched racial power structure of the Old South, fierce taboos against interracial sex, and the pride of the girl’s impoverished and violent family. The story is told from the perspective of Finch’s daughter Scout (Mary Badham, whose character narrates the film in flashback), her brother Jem and their friend Dill (modeled on author Harper Lee’s childhood friend, writer Truman Capote.) The children are fascinated by the decaying old Radley place, where Boo Radley (Robert Duvall in his film debut) is a recluse. A grown man who has not left the house for years, Boo is a bogeyman to the children ---until he begins to leave them small gifts at the risk of displeasing his abusive father.
Hounded at school because their father is defending a black man, the children watch the trial from the blacks-only balcony of the courtroom, and begin to see Atticus in a new light. Both they and their father are put in real danger as the trial progresses, and the two story lines come together as the tension rises.

The Cast of 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

Peck plays a hero who’s such a perfect human being he’d be a little hard to believe if not for Peck’s forthright, understated performance. He’s intelligent and modest, a softspoken man of unquestionable integrity devoted to the cause of justice. He’s also a devoted single father and the best shot in the county. It’s a good thing the studio’s original pick for the role – Rock Hudson – didn’t work out. Peck won a well-deserved, long-overdue Oscar. Badham, delightful as the willful tomboy Scout, was nominated for her amazingly natural and engaging performance, but lost the Best Supporting Actress Oscar to Patty Duke as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. Brock Peters is wonderful as the falsely accused Tom Robinson, terrified, but clinging to his own pride and the truth. A terrific ensemble cast brings the entire town to life with a great sense of place. And although Duvall has only a few moments of screen time as the damaged Boo Radley, he’s unforgettable.

'To Kill a Mockingbird' - the Bottom Line

Beautifully shot in black and white, To Kill a Mockingbird is a masterpiece that everybody should see, and no serious movie collector should be without. The film celebrates the power of innocence to turn back evil, but acknowledges that true justice is often impossible to reach. The great achievement of To Kill a Mockingbird is its unsentimental appeal to what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” It shows us who we want to be, and who we deserve to be, even when we fail.

Recommended for You:

If you liked To Kill a Mockingbird, you may like other Gregory Peck movies, including Gentleman's Agreement, and other movies that deal with the issue of race, including A Patch of Blue, A Raisin in the Sun, or Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

'To Kill a Mockingbird' at a Glance:

Year: 1962, Black and White
Director: Robert Mulligan
Running Time: 129 minutes
Studio: Universal

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