‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is a much acclaimed film directed by Robert Mulligan in 1962. The screenplay, by Horton Foote, was based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize winning ‘first novel’ by Harper Lee, that went on to sell 30million copies. The film stars Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, a small town lawyer in the Deep South and Mary Badham, an unknown child actress, as his young daughter Scout. The film has long been considered an American ‘classic’. The subject matter of the defence of a young black man, for a crime against a white woman in the Southern states of America, is as controversial and relevant today, as it was 60 years ago. The film was nominated for eight Academy awards, including Best Picture. It won three, with Peck named as Best Actor.
Harper Lee’s work is particularly topical again, with the surprise publication this year, of a second book ‘Go set a Watchman’. It is a sequel, in that the characters are now 20 years older. Whereas in fact, it was written in the mid 1950’s as a rough draft for ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and shows Atticus ( held as a civil-rights hero) in a different light.
Lee had always maintained she would never publish a second novel. Now a frail, blind/deaf 89 year old, she lives in a nursing home, although still in the little town of Monroeville. Always reclusive, with the death of her protective sister, Lee has been left alone and vulnerable. Now, her fans must decide if her decision to publish was a late change of heart, or has been driven by the avarice of ‘a cavalcade’ of lawyers, agents and publishers.
As the dust settles, it is a perfect time to watch our screening of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ at the LA Cinema.
By Chris Wilmot