Before I share my experience watching To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time let me elaborate with you my relationship with this story.
Last year during a visit to the library my mother found and checked out the iconic novel To Kill a Mockingbird. I had heard about this book for years and decided to try and read it. My sister read it first. She ran through it in a matter of days. It was potentially one of the fastest times I’ve ever seen her finish a book, specifically lately. I tried to read it after her and unfortunately I couldn’t get into it. I tried and tried and I made it about a quarter into the story before I gave up.
My mother implored me to finish it one day. Once I learned it had been adapted into a movie I would always reply, “I’ll watch the movie.” So I did…last night…and now I know why people love the book so much. The book that I now will have to read.
To Kill a Mockingbird, starring Gregory Peck who would go on to win an Oscar for Best Actor in this film (by the way, he looks EXACTLY as I imagined Atticus Finch to look in the novel which was AMAZING), started kind of slow just like the book but it soon built into a story that bluntly revealed the ugliness of our society in a truly heartbreaking and tear-inducing fashion.
I thought I knew how this story was going to end. I was horrified by the actual result.
Atticus Finch, a hardworking, decent man/lawyer with morals, was asked to represent a black man named Tom Robinson in alleged rape case. The courtroom scene involving the witnesses, lawyers, defendant, and even the spectators! was a whirlwind of powerful acting that had my eyes riveted to the screen.
I clung to every word, specifically Robinson’s, whose testimony of what really happened between him and the woman who accused him of rape was beyond powerful. It was a testament to the horror so many of my people have gone through for literally hundreds of years. Now, when I think back, Atticus’ final words to the jury seem haunting: “In the name of God, he is not guilty. In the name of God, believe Tom Robinson.” Just writing the words is making me tear up.
The conviction in which he spoke those words made it seem like the jury would have no choice but to say that Tom Robinson was not guilty of the heinous crime he had been accused of committing. Instead, things turned out the other way, leading to young Robinson’s untimely and tragic death not long after.
I was stunned and sent into a weeping fit for much of the rest of the movie. The ending only added to the emotional weight of the story, leaving me utterly wowed by the film’s conclusions. I’ve seen a lot of movies in my time but none quite like To Kill a Mockingbird. There is no doubt in my mind that it is one of the best movies I have ever seen.
This movie only reminded me once again, of the blistering cruelty of this world’s inhabitants toward certain people. Even now, the news is riddled with the ugliness of racism that continues to torment African-Americans and other races every single day. But…it’s people like Harper Lee and her fictional hero, Atticus Finch, that bring a little hope into our lives…to remind us that not everyone shares the views of those with their ugly prejudice and mindless hate. And I think that was what was so beautiful about To Kill a Mockingbird‘s beautiful conclusion.
There will always be good people in this world as long as we have a clear view to see them.
I’m giving this movie, and consequently the novel, 100 out of 100 and 5 out of 5 stars. It was a perfect film.
I thank you for reading and I hope you have a great day.