Viewed – 04 January 2013 Blu-ray
50th Anniversary Edition
I really thought I had seen this one. A story of deep south racial tension following the accusation of a black man of raping a white woman, with screen legend Gregory Peck as Lawyer Atticus Finch, who also happens to be a single father to his boisterous two children, Jim and Scout. The movie is seen mostly through the eyes of these two children, as they play in the neighbourhood, are scared of the stories emanating from one of the neighbours houses, and witness the threat of violence as the case of the accused man begins to stir up the locals.
Based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel and boasting a commanding, powerful performance from Peck, nabbing him a much deserved Oscar in the process, this is gritty but also utterly absorbing stuff. The child actors playing Peck’s children also impress, especially Mary Badham as Scout. Compared to today’s standards, its lighter and doesn’t go to the dark lengths it hints at, but the subject is still hard-hitting and relevant. The direction of Robert Mulligan is both assured and classy (with a very contemporary title sequence for its time), and aided by a fitting score by veteran Elmer Bernstein this all comes together to create a movie that transcends time and era, making it one of those classic movies actually deserving of such a title. See if you can recognise a young Robert Duvall as the movie’s phantom neighbour ‘Boo Radley’.
The Blu-ray is impressive stuff. The image is in excellent condition and really shines, the black & white photography packed with detail and depth, and I enjoyed it a great deal. The sound, remixed in 5.1 is also effective if not quite as jaw-dropping. Extras consist of two feature-length documentaries, first focusing on Gregory Peck, the next on the movie’s legacy. Add to this archive footage, interviews, a trailer, Pecks’s Oscar acceptance speech as well as a commentary by the director and producer – and this all makes for a superb package.
(the movie) 5 /5
(the Blu-ray) 5 /5