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To Kill A Mockingbird: This movie is all over the place

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To Kill A Mockingbird: This movie is all over the place

Old 06-25-06, 10:09 PM
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To Kill A Mockingbird: This movie is all over the place

I know most people don't like to talk bad about classic movies. Especially movies like To Kill A Mockingbird where everyone and their mother knows it is such a great film. But I am here to digress.

Let me start off by saying, To Kill A Mockingbird is a fine picture. Gregory Peck's performance is nothing short of amazing. However, this movie just don't know what it wants to be nor when to end. Everyone associates the courtroom scene with this film, but the whole trial is only a small part of the film. It also deals with kids dealing with a mysterious neighbor. Both stories are strong enough to make their own movies but they combine them and sorta half-ass them. The courtroom scenes are basically just rollercoasters of emotions. We are supposed to be angry then sad, then angry, and such and such. The kids storyline is a bit more concrete and seemed to be the focus of the story if not for that pesky court trial. IMO, this movie just didn't know what it wanted to be. The courtroom scenes seemed to serve as a distraction to the rest of the movie.

Again, this is just my opinion.
Old 06-25-06, 11:45 PM
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I think you're missing the point. Have you ever read the book? The movie is pretty faithful to the novel, as I recall.

As far as the two different storylines, they are supposed to be parallels. The children build up this scary image of Boo Radley because they don't understand him. He is different, an unknown. They at first think he is practically a monster, but they eventually discover that he is innocent--a truly gentle soul. The black man accused of raping the white girl is an innocent as well. The white jury, however, only sees that he is black--in other words, DIFFERENT!--and so they are biased against him because they are afraid of people who are different. They are afraid of the unknown.
You are supposed to read (or watch) these two storylines side-by-side to get a better perspective of both. Eliminating either one or the other would ruin the experience.
Old 06-26-06, 12:54 AM
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I agree, you've missed the entire point of the story. Like so many moviegoers these days, you seem incapable of looking beyond the surface for a little thing called subtext.

There are reasons why "To Kill a Mockingbird" is considered to be one of the best American films ever made --- and the book one of the best pieces of American literature. Instead of writing a post ridiculing it, you might want to instead ask yourself what you might be missing.
Old 06-26-06, 01:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Cellar Door
Have you ever read the book? The movie is pretty faithful to the novel, as I recall.
While the rest of your post is spot-on, this statement is irrelevant. A film should not depend on knowledge of its basis to succeed. To Kill A Mockingbird is a great film, whether or not one has read the book.
Old 06-26-06, 03:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Salty
There are reasons why "To Kill a Mockingbird" is considered to be one of the best American films ever made --- and the book one of the best pieces of American literature. Instead of writing a post ridiculing it, you might want to instead ask yourself what you might be missing.
Old 06-26-06, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by DonnachaOne
While the rest of your post is spot-on, this statement is irrelevant. A film should not depend on knowledge of its basis to succeed. To Kill A Mockingbird is a great film, whether or not one has read the book.
The point is that if he doesn't like the story... then he really should be complaining about the book author's bad story, not the moviemakers' (they didn't make the story, they just shot it)
Old 06-26-06, 09:15 AM
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I haven't watched the movie in a long time, but I do remember it sucking pretty hard.
Old 06-26-06, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by DealMan
I haven't watched the movie in a long time, but I do remember it sucking pretty hard.
While it's not the most spectacular movie in terms of camera work or mise en scene, in all other respects it's an absolute masterpiece.

Last edited by wendersfan; 06-26-06 at 01:56 PM.
Old 06-26-06, 09:55 AM
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I agree with the original poster, the movie is lacking all the elements that make up a great film:
  • It's in B&W
  • If it were released today it would be rated PG. Obviously it's watered down for children
  • There's no slow motion bullet-time
  • The camera lingers too long on scenes, where's the quick cutting to keep my interest?
  • Run time is much too long.
  • Atticus Finch is supposedly some great hero, but not once does his dispatch an opponent followed by a witty quip about the manner of death!
Old 06-26-06, 10:20 AM
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Gawd forbid anyone should have a different opinion on something.....
Old 06-26-06, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
Atticus Finch is supposedly some great hero, but not once does his dispatch an opponent followed by a witty quip about the manner of death!
You've forgotten the scene where Atticus kills the rabid dog with a single shot!
Old 06-26-06, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by DonnachaOne
While the rest of your post is spot-on, this statement is irrelevant. A film should not depend on knowledge of its basis to succeed. To Kill A Mockingbird is a great film, whether or not one has read the book.
A decent truism--a film should not depend on knowledge of its basis to suceed--but like all truisms there's always the exception that makes the rule. You needn't think any given Hamlet movie is great, but being unaware that its dialog was written 400 years ago is likely to confuse you and miscolor your appreciation of the film.

In this case, the OP is arguing against the structure of the underlying story, a world-famous episodic fictionalized memoir, complaining that the narrative is too scattered. Pointing out that this was an intentional duplication of the book's form, and that the story's threads have central themes in common, seems quite relevant.

Last edited by adamblast; 06-26-06 at 02:40 PM.
Old 06-26-06, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Damfino
You've forgotten the scene where Atticus kills the rabid dog with a single shot!
And then quips "Now, play dead"
Old 06-26-06, 01:47 PM
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Wow, cant believe there are people that would descibe this movie as 'sucking pretty hard.'
Old 06-26-06, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by thematahara
Wow, cant believe there are people that would descibe this movie as 'sucking pretty hard.'

If only I had read DealMan's insightful review prior to viewing this film, I could have saved myself a few hours in front of the TV.

Wait, I loved this film. Never mind.
Old 06-26-06, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by DeputyDave
And then quips "Now, play dead"
Old 06-26-06, 03:36 PM
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While I think the movie is spectacular, I liked the book better. The movie shifted the focus away from Scout, which is one of the reasons why I liked the book so much, onto the trial and Atticus. It glosses over Scout and her brother and Boo, which to me, were very important parts of the novel. That doesn't change that the movie is great, but it lessened it for me. I understand that in order for the movie not to be four hours, you need to make the choice to focus on the trial or on Scout/Boo, and understand why they made the choice they did.
Old 06-26-06, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Giantrobo
Gawd forbid anyone should have a different opinion on something.....
If someone doesn't want his or her opinion debated, then they shouldn't post in in a public movie discussion forum.
Old 06-27-06, 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by DVD Josh
While I think the movie is spectacular, I liked the book better. The movie shifted the focus away from Scout, which is one of the reasons why I liked the book so much, onto the trial and Atticus. It glosses over Scout and her brother and Boo, which to me, were very important parts of the novel. That doesn't change that the movie is great, but it lessened it for me. I understand that in order for the movie not to be four hours, you need to make the choice to focus on the trial or on Scout/Boo, and understand why they made the choice they did.
The book is really about the children, how they see the events in the town, and the whole loss of innocence/growing up thing. The movie, on the other hand, just focuses on the trial and Boo Radley. It's a great film, but the book is definitely richer.
Old 06-27-06, 01:59 PM
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i have read the book a few times in high school and seen the movie a couple times and never liked it at all really
Old 06-27-06, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Salty
I agree, you've missed the entire point of the story. Like so many moviegoers these days, you seem incapable of looking beyond the surface for a little thing called subtext.

There are reasons why "To Kill a Mockingbird" is considered to be one of the best American films ever made --- and the book one of the best pieces of American literature. Instead of writing a post ridiculing it, you might want to instead ask yourself what you might be missing.
Thank you so much for your insight. As a big fan of Robert Bresson, Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, and Krystoff Kieslowski I'm sure I'm just like so many moviegoers these days.

As for the parallel storylines I understand what you're saying but the pacing still suffers immensely from this. The thing that always bothered me is how the film contradicts itself. Atticus Finch has an almost Jesus like complex, always doing what is right, no matter the amount of humility involved, however, at the end he doesn't put up much of a fight when the policeman makes up a story and refuses to arrest Boo Radley.
Old 06-28-06, 12:53 AM
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But not arresting Boo is EXACTLY the final comeuppance for Atticus! Here he is indeed the 'always do what is right' person, but that belief still ended up with Tom Robinson being dead.

And now he's about to turn his OWN SON IN, because he believes that he killed someone, even if in self defense. The sheriff shows him the truth, AS WELL AS the truth of letting things go for the greater good.

It's all perfect.
Old 06-28-06, 12:55 AM
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In my own opinion, it's no wonder that Harper Lee never wrote a second book. She could NEVER top "To Kill A Mockingbird" - probably indeed the greatest novel of the 20th century.

And combined with the Gregory Peck movie - I challenge ANYONE to tell me a book/movie combination that is better.

Ok - maybe Beach Blanket Bingo, but other than that...
Old 06-28-06, 12:55 AM
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Originally Posted by PopcornTreeCt
The thing that always bothered me is how the film contradicts itself. Atticus Finch has an almost Jesus like complex, always doing what is right, no matter the amount of humility involved, however, at the end he doesn't put up much of a fight when the policeman makes up a story and refuses to arrest Boo Radley.
Atticus Finch is heroic, in an extraordinary way, considering when and where the story is set, but I don't think he's Jesusy -- and if you want to suggest that Atticus has a Messiah-complex, then you are way off in your understanding of the character. (Perhaps the Catholic sensibility of all those foreign films you've been watching has affected you.)

Atticus is concerned with Justice.

He wants his client to get a fair trial under the laws of our country, and (perhaps somewhat naively) he believes that when he demonstrates Tom's innocence in court, the jury will declare Tom not guilty of the rape charge.

In the end, it's Atticus who learns something about Justice from the sheriff.

Atticus is completely ready to see his son* or Boo Radley arrested and tried because, despite what had happened with Tom Robinson, Atticus still believes in the court system.
It's the sheriff who teaches Atticus the lesson that there are times when circumventing the law is the surest path to Justice.

Atticus is not a superhero.

He loses The Trial, and even though he knows that Tom is innocent, he lets him be taken away to prison (while Atticus talks about an appeal) and when Tom is murdered, Atticus is helpless to do anything but express condolence to the widow. He doesn't even go after the truly guilty and dish a out a little pay back on Tom's behalf.

But Atticus is a good man trying to do the right thing, and in those circumstances, just the attempt was heroic.



*edited to acknowledge Seeker's point that Atticus at first thought Jem did the killing

Last edited by Count Dooku; 06-28-06 at 01:01 AM.
Old 06-28-06, 12:56 AM
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Actually, Atticus thinks his son did it at first.

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