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To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - Blu-ray Review

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To Kill a Mockingbird - Blu-ray Review

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5 Stars

When this reviewer was a small boy, another young boy said something nasty after only just meeting him, and it stuck in his memory for the rest of his life. Why this boy stuck in my memory is because for the first (and thankfully last) time in my life, he elicited from me a racist thought: He can’t speak to me that way; he’s black. Now, thankfully, I never said this to the boy—being a meek nerd at the time, I don’t think I said a thing, actually—and I immediately caught myself pondering that single thought. What the hell did the colour of his skin have to do with anything? He was a jerk; a rude, insulting, dismissive jerk—that, and that alone was what got me offside with him. At the ripe old age of 6 or 7, I resolved never ever to think that way again.

Racism is not endemic to any patch of dirt on this planet. It’s a universal curse and a stark reminder to all of us how easy it is for us to hate. The classic To Kill A Mockingbird, based on the equally (if not more) revered novel of Harper Lee, is the film to show a child to make them understand how ugly a thing racism is. It’s ironic, being a child that had a moment in time where he failed to recognize that failing, that it’s taken all these years to finally see this legendary picture.

Set in the South in the 1930s, and told from the perspective of a tomboy named Scout, Mockingbird tells the tale of a humble town lawyer bestowed the difficult task of defending a black man accused of rape. Through the trial and beyond, his two children watch their father battle prejudice, lawlessness, and their world’s ugliness with his unfailing principles: to never indulge those things, anyone who would indulge them, and to never fight ugliness with more ugliness.

On the face of the tale, it could seem rather pious and heavy-handed, but at no time does Atticus Finch see himself as better. He is a man of principle, and fights hard for them within the confines of his charge; at home, he accepts neighbours as he sees them, never through rumour (a lesson that comes to bear on the children and their fear of the local bogeyman up the street); his gentle ways and deft personality ensure—whether he succeeds or fails—that his children are forearmed for the world, and that a better place awaits for his efforts. It is masterful characterization, told in a way that shouldn’t work—heady themes seen from a child’s perspective—and rarely approached let alone matched in the 50 years that have since passed.

Finch was Peck’s favourite role, and the film endowed him with lifelong connections (including the author) and a legacy to be proud of. He inhabits Atticus as easily as he did himself, and some have suggested the character and the man weren’t dissimilar. The children are equally natural and deserving of their place in film history; in fact, the entire cast are a class act in brevity and naturalism.

The film is a product of its time, so for the young or even the uninitiated like myself, don’t expect some in your face expose of the darker side of the South. This film has a touch as light as its protagonist’s, and is every bit as effective for it.

Special mention has to be made for the score by Elmer Bernstein; it is one of the most evocative, beautiful scores in existence.

There are many classics out there that slip through the cracks for years, even to people like me lucky enough to be given films to review. While there is no doubt most have heard of this film, there are many, just like me, who have never got around to it. Let me tell ya, you’re missing out. This is one classic that is a must see.

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To Kill a Mockingbird - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: This title has not been rated by the MPAA.
Director
: Robert Mulligan
Writer
: Horton Foote
Cast:
Gregory Peck; Frank Overton; John Megna; Brock Peters; Robert Duvall
Genre
: Mystery | Drama
Tagline:
The most beloved Pulitzer Prize book now comes vividly alive on the screen!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Well, judgin' from his tracks, he's about six and a half feet tall. He eats raw squirrels and all the cats he can catch. There's a long, jagged scar that runs all the way across his face. His teeth are yella and rotten. His eyes are popped. And he drools most of the time."
Distributor:
Universal Studios
Official Site:
Theatrical Release Date:
March 16, 1963
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 13, 2012 (U.K.)

Synopsis: Gregory Peck won an Oscar for his brilliant performance as the Southern lawyer who defends a black man accused of rape in this film version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The way in which it captures a time, a place, and above all, a mood, makes this film a masterpiece. The setting is a dusty Southern town during the Depression. A white woman accuses a black man of rape. Though he is obviously innocent, the outcome of his trial is such a foregone conclusion that no lawyer will step forward to defend him - except Peck, the town's most distinguished citizen. His compassionate defense costs him many friendships but earns him the respect and admiration of his two motherless children.

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To Kill a Mockingbird - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

5 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
5 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

To Kill a Mockingbird [Limited Edition Collector's Series Digibook] [Blu-ray] [1962]

Available on Blu-ray - February 13, 2012 (U.K.)
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS 2.0; French: DTS 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy (as download); DVD copy; BD-Live; Mobile features
Region Encoding:

The VC-1 encode transfer, one of the first under Universal’s 100th anniversary banner, is a revelation, and even though this reviewer has never before seen this picture, it is doubtful it has been seen like this anywhere at any time. DNR, the common complaint amongst videophiles for Universal titles, is kept to a minimum. The picture clarity and detail is astounding in most parts; there was a porch scene around the 2.05 mark that appeared a little muddy to me. The repairs done to the damaged camera negatives are invisible to my eyes. Sound has been remixed to a 5.1 lossless mix, and it really aids the film, especially Bernstein’s score. An impressive set which includes feature length documentaries, featurettes, commentaries, and a lovely digibook package to boot.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Feature-length commentary track with Director Robert Mulligan and Producer Alan Pakula

Special Features:

  • Fearful Symmetry (1:30) This feature length documentary is by Charles Kiselyak
  • A Conversation with Gregory Peck (1:37)
  • Academy Award Best Actor Acceptance Speech (1:30)
  • American Film Institute Life Achievement Award (10:01)
  • Excerpt from Tribute to Gregory Peck (10:09)
  • Scout Remembers (12:01)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:52)
  • 100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics (9:13)
  • U Control

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