Top critical review
Hate to use the cliché - not as good as the book.
24 August 2016
What's the right way to criticize a classic such as this? Well, to dull the critique lets get done with the obvious - Peck is imPeckable as Atticus Finch, who is perhaps the nicest nice guy in American fiction. Where the movie disappoints (in comparison with the book) is in generous omissions, some areas of over-emphasis, and some downright erroneous messaging.
Omissions: The entire Ms.Dubose episode is omitted. That part brought out Finch's sense of fairness and Jem's growing up. The conflicts within Finch's family on his taking up the Robinson case are down away with. Jem, Scout and Dill really do not have that much to do in the movie as they do in the book. Calpurina has nothing to do in the movie (the church portion isn't part of the movie's script) whereas in the book, her influence on the children is substantial.
Over-emphasis: The courtroom scene dominates. The movie rushes to the trial, stays there for a while, and removes much of the subtlety the book had in this portion in favor of drama.
Lost messaging: Per the movie, only the Ewell's are downright racist, the mob that tries to lynch Tom Robinson is incidentally racist, and the rest of the town is ambivalent. The book brought out how lonely Finch was in his stand. Also, beyond racism, Finch's morality and humanism doesn't quite come out. About 3-4 lines in the book that really brought out everything about him are sacrilegiously omitted in the movie - the part where he says the one thing that does not abide by majority opinion is a person's conscience. The scene between him and Scout is there, but those words, those golden words are not.
Worth a one time watch but if you love the book, you will be disappointed. Fair warning.