The Complexities of Childhood: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

mocking bird

A belated link to my final contribution to the Childhood Films countdown at Wonders in the Dark–at number four, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time, adapted from one of my favorite books, 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird:

I don’t think it’s too far off the mark to label To Kill a Mockingbird one of the best movies ever produced about childhood. Brought to life by a brilliant cast, led by Peck (in what many, myself included, consider the performance of his career) and young Mary Badham as Scout, Mockingbird speaks to all the complexities of that too-short period in our lives: the wonder of discovery, the mystery of the unknown, and that too-familiar death of innocence and the dawning of knowledge about the greater world around us which sparks adulthood.

Mockingbird is presented to us as a memory, as an adult Jean Louise looks back on her childhood in the “tired old town” of Maycomb. As the film opens, it is 1932, and like most of the country, Alabama is in the midst of the Great Depression. Six-year-old Scout and her ten-year-old brother, Jem (Phillip Alford), live with their father, Atticus, a stalwart and respected lawyer, and are cared for by a housekeeper, Calpurnia (Estelle Evans). An agile tomboy more at home playing in the dirt than wearing a school-mandated dress, Scout is the very definition of a precocious child, forever asking questions, many of which we suspect she already knows the answers to.

Check out the rest of this piece at Wonders in the Dark!


Previously featured:

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (#17)

My Neighbor Totoro (#54)

Pan’s Labyrinth (#58)

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