Monday, November 10, 2008
I don't remember the book well enough to know if it had the same problems, but the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird is absolutely fantastically wonderful when it's about the comings-of-age of two kids in the South, and kind of a bore when it's about the trial of Tom Robinson. Which is weird, because I'm pretty sure the "racism is bad" message of the movie is the most famous part. Problem is, these days the message seems unremarkable and out-of-date (especially since Tom, the black guy, is a vaguely defined character) and trial itself is overwritten and heavy handed, and after seeing about a billion courtroom movies in my life it seems completely average. Maybe it was influential, I dunno.
But the stuff about the kids is magical, even touching. The story isn't realistic, per se, but I think there's a lot of truth and insight about the way kids view and misunderstand the world around them. If it were just about Scout and Jem's misadventures, this would be a great movie. With all the trial stuff, I think it has to settle for "very good."