A child's voice hums as his hand opens a box. Bird's eye view. We discover a pen, charcoal, a marble, a key, coins, a little knife, a watch. The hand takes the charcoal and begins to write and draw. The title and the credits list unfold, still on a carefree tune and then a beautiful melody. The watch, though it has no hand, begins an imaginery tick. Time and the story can start.
A beautiful start which turns trifles into treasures and the world into a place where you can marvel. The place here is Maycomb, Alabama at the time of segregation. The movie is adapted from the best seller by Harper Lee, 1961 Pulitzer prize.
The great depression. Atticus Finch, a lawyer raises his two kids alone : Scout (Jean Louise) and Jem (Jeremy). The story is told from Scout's point of view and reports a summer when the two children are going to discover the hidden face of the small village and the South, segregation, on the occasion of Tom Robinson's trial.
It is a movie about silence, a silence which is in fact a lie. Silence about racism, about « different » people, about the unspeakable desires which, if they were revealed would blow this little world apart. There's also the scaring and delicious silence of the night in which children imagine things. In these silences are shadows.
It is an initiatory story in which Scouts discovers some truth in an atmosphere which reminds Twain's Mississippi and Davis Grubbs ' Night of the Hunter. Carelessness, innocence and terror.
After the arrival of a third kid, innocent games and the excitment of the hidden monster, Bo Radley, comes the trial. Reality slowly breaks into the children's universe. Their look on the adult world is a denunciation in itself and doesn't need words or speeches.
The final scene, during a windy Halloween night is tipycally Southern Gothic, It is set in a forest, a place which was traditionally an outlet of fear and passions and fantasy in which man confronts the beast. As usual, the monsters are not those we expected.
A great simple movie. Gregory peck does a good job, as always but the young Mary Badham is a prodigy. Her talent and authenticity shine and illuminate the screen.
A great classic !
To Kill a Mockingbird(1962)
- Robert Mulligan
Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice.