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Loving Treatment of A True American Classic
, March 11, 2003
This review is from: To Kill a Mockingbird (Collector's Edition) (DVD)
Everyone who has ever taken high school English classes will no doubt be familiar with Harper Lee's time honored story. As is mentioned in the accompanying DVD, Fearfull Symmetry, it is second only to the Bible in the hearts and minds of U.S. readers. This is probably also the most often-shown film in said classrooms. No need to reshash the story-line, then.
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.
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