“The other day I happened to catch To Kill a Mockingbird on television. It was airing as part of the general enthusiasm that preceded the release of Go Set a Watchman, the controversial follow-up to Mockingbird that now stalks Harper Lee’s classic novel like a shadow. I hadn’t seen the movie since childhood, and made sure to pay attention during the famous trial scene, where Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck, uses all his wiles and rhetorical powers to save the life of Tom Robinson, a young black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. “In the name of God, do your duty,” Atticus thunders in his closing speech, as if willing some spiritual transference of his own moral integrity into the hearts of the white jurors before him…
From The Week
“Dedicated to the brilliance of the 1962 feature film. Thanks for watching!”
From Christopher Leps
I saw the To Kill a Mockingbird movie last night in preparation for this piece. And I’ve seen it before, the last time probably five years ago. And I haven’t actually read the book, so I can’t comment on that intelligently. But the movie, even though it certainly shows racist characters, it’s certainly not a racist movie.
If Ryu Spaeth, is asking whether the To Kill a Mockingbird movie is racist, with all due respect, that is a silly question. It is about a young African-American man in the deep South in the 1960s, who is falsely accused of murdering a young Caucasian woman. And the defendant, being represented by a good veteran Caucasian lawyer, who not only knows his client is innocent based on the evidence, but does what he can to get him acquitted.
Now where is the racism in this movie? This movie is about a town in rural Alabama in the 1930s. Where the people there are not well-educated and struggling just to survive. Where the town is overwhelming Caucasian and probably Anglo-Saxon at that and who probably sees African-Americans and that is not what they called Black people back then, but they saw Africans as their ancestors who owned African slaves did. As animals and property, not as human beings.
And yet one of the members of this community is falsely accused of raping a young Caucasian woman and one of the members of this Anglo-Saxon community, does whatever he can to defend Tom Robinson. An African-American man accused of raping a young Caucasian woman.
The To Kill a Mockingbird movie, is about the times, essentially. What life was like in very rural Alabama in the 1930s for both Caucasian and African people in this community. And racism, is obviously a factor here, like it was everywhere else in the country and perhaps a bigger problem in Alabama and the deep South in general.
But this movie doesn’t make one community look better than another community, or members of one community look better than another, simply because of their race. This movie was about showing what life was like for people in this community in the 1930s. And how justice was carried out and how the community responded when one of their members accuses someone of seriously hurting them. Nothing racist about that.