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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - February, 2012

ARTICLE INDEX

"To Kill a Mockingbird" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

movie-february-2012-to-kill-a-mockingbird

Synopsis

This classic American film is a nearly direct adaptation of the 1960 novel of the same name written by Harper Lee.  The novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. 

The movie centers around a small town attorney in the deep South named Atticus Finch (Peck).  The story is told through the eyes of Mr. Finch's youngest child.  She portrays Finch as a strong, caring father figure.  The main plot focus is the trial of Tom Robinson (Peters) a black man accused of raping a white woman.  Finch agrees to defend Robinson and fights to uphold proper justice.  The main themes explored here include love, compassion, intolerance, poverty, innocence and a coming of age.

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 1962, Black & White, NR, 2 Hr 10 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford, John Megna, Brock Peters, Frank Overton and Robert Duvall
  • Directed by Robert Mulligan
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

This movie garnered eight Academy Award nominations in 1963, scoring three Oscars.  The most prominent of which was Peck's award for Best Actor.  Peck beat out Peter O'Toole who was nominated for his part in Lawrence of Arabia that year.  Then in 2003, the American Film Institute named Atticus Finch as the greatest movie hero of all time.  So this movie has rightfully earned its place among the great and enduring American film classics.  I enjoyed every minute of the movie and feel that this 50th Anniversary Blu-ray is a must have for any serious cinephile.  It has been thoroughly and lovingly restored and comes in a special package with a DVD/Digital Copy and a 40-page book of memoirs, storyboards, telegraphs, posters, etc.  Highly recommended.

Technical

As mentioned above, this movie received a full digital restoration as part of Universal's 100th Anniversary.  The scans came from the original 35mm film elements.  The restoration team cleaned up much of the film grain, but left enough grain intact for authenticity's sake.  They also digitally restored frames that were torn or scratched.  The results of the restoration are incredible with detail galore and excellent grayscale tracking.  Some scenes are a little soft or have crushed whites but it is obvious this is a limitation of the original photography.  The audio is well restored too.  The music by Elmer Bernstein sounds as if it could have been recorded yesterday.  Voices did tend to sound a bit nasal at times.  The team smartly used the surround channels for not much more than subtle environmental cues.

Extras

This package includes some really great extras.  Besides the special packaging and booklet, you get "Fearful Symmetry", a feature-length documentary on the making of the movie; "A Conversation with Gregory Peck"; Academy Award Best Actor Acceptance Speech; American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award; "Excerpt from the Academy Tribute to Gregory Peck"; "Scout Remembers"; Feature Commentary with Director Robert Mulligan and Producer Alan Pakula; The Theatrical Trailer and "100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics".