To Kill a Mockingbird: Book to Movie Review

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Don’t Judge a Book by its Movie is a weekly feature on The Candid Cover spotlighting  and reviewing book to movie adaptations. 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Warning: Spoilers for those that have not yet read the book.

Author: Harper Lee
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Cast: Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford
Director: Robert Mulligan
Screenplay: Horton Foote

Summary (from Goodreads): The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbirdtakes readers to the roots of human behavior—to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Goodreads | Book Depository

At some point, most students will have the opportunity to explore the world of Scout and the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. This novel is definitely one deserving of all the accolades, as it inspires, teaches and entertains all at the same time. While the film adaptation is amazing, it certainly does not stand up to the book’s incredible writing and storyline.

To Kill a Mockingbrid by Harper Lee is one of the most impactful books that I have ever had the pleasure to read. It is a book that is appealing to all ages, as it can be relatable to teens and adults alike. The book stars Scout, a young girl who contradicts society’s beliefs. She makes many mistakes and learns invaluable lessons along the way that both she and the reader can learn from. The themes in To Kill a Mockingbird range from good vs. evil, prejudice, coming of age, courage, and life in a small town. There is so much to ponder and take away from reading To Kill a Mockingbird, that the reader is really left with a sense of walking in someone else’s shoes. What is really remarkable about this book is, despite the fact that it was written so long ago, many of the themes and ideas explored in Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird still resonate in today’s world.

The screen adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird is one that is not to be missed, due to its incredible acting and wonderful depiction of the town of Macomb. With a name like Gregory Peck and the fact that the movie won many Oscars, including best actor in a leading role, it is hard to not write a glowing review of this film. By today’s standards, the movie is obviously lacking in special effects and must rely solely on the acting to bring the story to life. This classic film does just that. The actors and the casting are superb. What really stood out for me in this film was Brock Peters, who played Tom Robinson. When Tom takes the stand and is questioned about the crime he is accused of committing, one cannot but feel empathetic and saddened by the injustice he is faced with. This is what I believe Harper Lee also wanted to achieve for her readers, an understanding of what social injustice feels like.

While the movie is fantastic, the adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird was definitely not as magical as the book. Understandably, this is an adaptation and not every single detail from the book can be included. However, so much is omitted from the film that viewing it is quite different from reading the novel. Many key points and characters are missing from the movie version. For instance, Aunt Alexandra is not a character in the movie, which is somewhat disappointing, as she plays a huge role in Scout’s coming of age in the book. Also, important events that are significant to the plot of the novel are missing, such as the interactions the children have with Mrs. Dubose and the infamous tea party at the Finch house. The parts of the book that are included, like the Halloween pageant and the famous ham costume, are so enjoyable considering this movie was made in the 1960s. The film actually focuses more on Tom Robinson’s trial, so the major theme of coming of age in the book seems almost lost. However, while there were some omissions that I was disappointed with, this film is one of those old movies that is truly worth seeing.

As the title of this feature indicates, don’t judge the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, by its movie. Although the movie is a not-to-be-missed classic, the novel is far superior and is really an important book that deals with so many relatable themes. It would be a shame to see the movie without at least reading the book first!

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