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The Gregory Peck classic goes Blu, but this edition isn't exactly up to full high-def standard....
Universal / 129 Minutes / 1962 / Unrated / Street Date: January 31, 2012
What stuck with me as I watched To Kill a Mockingbird for the umpteenth time on this new Blu-ray edition of the film is how much evil there is in it. Harper Lee's novel is a common participant on curriculums in high schools everywhere, but even though I re-read the novel not all that long ago, watching Robert Mulligan's film version left me fascinated as to the grisliness and grotesque import of its subtext.
I suppose that's part of what makes this distinctly southern tale so palpable and vivid (especially for young viewers and readers): There is danger around every corner of Scout Finch's world. She is no mere blank spectator watching a story unfold in front of her eyes, allowing her perspective to be the only element of authentic drama she contributes - no, there are moments within To Kill a Mockingbird that steam with peril and terror.
Of course, this is antithetical to the movie's reputation as being an iconically benevolent tale about an altruistic attorney named Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck). Of course, the way Finch deals with the court case at the center of the story drips of an endlessly admirable sense of contribution to community and the law of the land, but Harper Lee knew well enough with her novel that simple intelligence and good will isn't enough: To truly test the merits and scale of Atticus' dedication to cause, her narrative puts the dude through the ringer.
The result is a scintillating, dazzling portrait of youth and the impending conundrums of not just puberty, but adulthood itself. We all putt about in this crazy world of ours hoping that good will outweigh evil enough for us to lead rewarding lives, but Harper Lee knows that isn't always the case. To Kill a Mockingbird is a fierce, wide-eyed cinematic feat, a movie that may not quite live up to the nuance of Lee's novel, but nevertheless deserves its accolades as one of the 20th century's most impressive feats of mainstream filmmaking.