To Kill a Mockingbird 50th Anniversary Edition
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Besides interviews with Mulligan and Pakula, the documentary includes interviews with the actors who play the children, Mary Badham as Scout and Phillip Alford as Jem, as well as with the screen writer, Horton Foote, and the composer, Elmer Bernstein. The documentary also includes interviews with several residents of Monroeville, Ala., the real Macon, to round out a sense of "Macon" then and now.
Among the revelations in the commentary is that production designer Henry Bumstead (Vertigo) masterfully recreated the children's neighborhood on the Universal backlot using houses that would have been demolished by the construction of a freeway. The main titles, by Stephen Frankfurt, with Bernstein's theme, manage brilliantly to capture not only the essense of the film but an essence of childhood, about which both Harper Lee's timeless only published novel and the film itself are very much about. Only later do we discover the nature of that blend of innocence and experience alluded to in the William Blake poem from which Kiselyak takes the title of his documentary.
My only regret is that Harper Lee, though she helped Kiselyak in producing the documetnary, declined to be interviewed for it. In its stead, however, we have another evocation, that of Ms. Lee's voice in the rich tone of nostalgia and reminiscence with which Kiselyak infuses his own small but mighty masterpiece.
This DVD set offers an excellent transfer of the famed black and white cinematography of the prolific Russel Harlan. It's a real treat to hear from so many of the people who were involved in the production, from the producer, Alan J. Pakula, to the now grown actors who played Scout and Jim. The audience gains great insights into what made this film so special, not only to the legions of its admiring fans, but to everyone involved in creating it. We learn the scenes that Horton Foote, the screenwriter added from the book to advance character development (the scene showing Atticus putting Scout to bed and her questioning Jim about their mother as Atticus overhears them from the porch, was not in the book, for instance). We get to hear from Elmer Bernstein talk about the genesis of his unforgettable soundtrack. Due credit is also given to Stephen Frankfurt, for his highly creative and original title design, which sets the tone so beatifully for the rest of the film.
There is no question that this is director Robert Mulligan's greatest film, nor that in his portrayal of Atticus Finch, Gregory Peck found the role most perfectly suited to his character and rock-solid persona. This is a film about integrity, essentially, and there is not a false moment in the film. This compilation should be included in any film collector's library. I hope it continues to be shown in English classes until time immemorial. It's message and its relevance to the human condition will never go out of style, one hopes. Major Praise to Universal Studios and to all those involved in assembling this perfect DVD special edition.
Today, the internet has a wealth of resources to assist teachers and students using this classic adaptation of Harper Lee's novel. The documentary, "Fearful Symmetry" produced in 1998 to be included on this DVD Collector's Edition, is great resource for teachers, students and all those who love and have been touched by "Mockingbird."
The 130 minute documentary, written and directed Charles Kiselyak, both discusses how the film was made and it's general literary elements. The film is one of the most effectively edited documentaries I have seen, linking key scenes from "Mockingbird" with talking heads, still photos and black and white film taken in various localities across the south.
The documentary narration, written by Charles Kiselyak and read with great emotion by Mary Williams, is literary and quite sophisticated.
The talking heads include: screenwriter Horton Foote, director Robert Mulligan, producer Allan J. Pakula and composer Elmer Bernstein. Members of the cast appearing in the film: Gregory Peck (Atticus Finch), Phillip Alford (Jem), Mary Badham (Scout), Collin Wilcox (Maybella Ewell), Brock Peters (Tom Robinson) and Robert Duvall (Boo Radley).
Director Charles Kiselyak with the help of Harper Lee was able to get three residents to discuss their lives in Monroeville, Alabama. A.B. Blass and Norman Barnett recall life in the small town during the depression, and Ida Gaillard, a retired high school teacher, brings an interesting perspective to what life was (may have been) like in the town Harper Lee used as the model for Maycomb.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What's the right way to criticize a classic such as this? Well, to dull the critique lets get done with the obvious - Peck is imPeckable as Atticus Finch, who is perhaps the nicest... Read morePublished 17 hours ago by Ujval Nanavati
Classic, wonderfully acted film that should be in every videophile's blu-ray library. Item was as described and transaction was seamless. Thanks!Published 1 day ago by B. Mahan
Good movie. I love the oldie movies and this one was worth the wait to see.Published 8 days ago by SLB
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