The film version of Harper Lee’s novel was released in 1962. I studied the book in 1976. I had no idea there was a film and back in the 70s, unless it was shown on television, there would have been no way to see it. It was long gone from the cinemas and only a helpful co-incidence of scheduling would have enabled me to watch rather than read it.
I am pleased I grew up in a time before on line streaming, DVDs, or even video cassettes since there was no way to consume ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ other than to read it. Having done so, for my English Literature O Level, I gained a book that has remained in my hinterland ever since.
When I discovered that a film had been made of the book I loved, I was reluctant to watch it. By this stage I had passed through university and the age of the video cassette made it possible to watch at any time. I held off. The chances of a film director replacing my vision with his own were too great a risk. Instead, I kept my own version of the story alive and only ended up watching the film when asked to do so with a friend. It seemed rude to decline and odd to say that I didn’t want my book memory affected.
Gregory Peck was not my Atticus Finch but he was amazing in this role and the film earned its place as a classic in my hinterland. I can see why Peck won the Academy Award. The film was directed by Robert Mulligan with a screenplay by Horton Foote. Mary Badham as Scout and Philip Alford as Jem were very close to the children in my head from reading the book. It is now hard to picture anyone else when rereading the novel.
Many films have to distil the book to tell the story, or concentrate on some parts at the expense of others but this film did not fall short of its tall order.
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?