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(Review originally written at 28 July 2005)

I always thought that "To Kill a Mockingbird" was nothing more than a court-drama. A predecessor of "A Time to Kill" if you like, however the movie turned out to be much more than a court-drama. The movie is truly about and told from the point of view of the children, growing up in the depression-era of the '30's in a small racial divided Alabama town.

The story is told beautifully and takes it time to tell the story in a good suitable slow pace. The emotions of the movie are truly gripping and all have a very real, realistic feeling. The fact that the story is told through the eyes of a child makes it even more effective. All the scene's with the children feel very realistic and should bring back some childhood memories. The way their playing outside with each other should is especially recognizable.

The movie has several subplots. The scene's with Atticus Finch and his defense of the black man who is accused of raping a white woman is one of them but the movie never looses its focus on Atticus his two children Jem and Scout who truly are the main characters of the movie. The children have to deal with the loss of their mother, their fears and prejudices. The way these things are handled make "To Kill a Mockingbird" a powerful and important movie.

Gregory Peck is mostly excellent as the ordinary but yet highly admirable Atticus Finch, who besides his own personal problems and that as a lawyer also fights to hide the ugly things of the world for his children. Also really excellent were the child actors. Especially Mary Badham as Scout deeply impressed me. It's no wonder that the then 9/10 year old received an Oscar nomination. Peck received a nomination and unlike Bedham he also got the take the statue home with him. Other Oscar wins for this movie were Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

Also of course worth mentioning is the very good musical score by Elmer Bernstein. This one is among his best work of his lifetime.

Is there nothing wrong with this movie? Unfortunately yes, even though I still consider this a classic and one of the most memorable and impressive movies it is not a perfect one. It's obvious that this movie is based on a book and some typical book elements are present throughout the movie that don't really work out the way they're supposed to, such as the entire 'Boo' Radley (played by Robert Duvall, in his very first movie role!) story at the end of the movie. Also the whole 'Boo' Radley thing feels a bit old fashioned and perhaps a bit too over-the-top.

A movie that you should experience at least once in your lifetime.

9/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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