Blu-ray Review: 50th Anniversary Edition of Beloved ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

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CHICAGO – Do kids still read Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” in school? Or do they just watch the movie now? When I was growing up it may have been the most canonical book of a growing child’s formative years. If I had to look back on the books that most influenced the way I look at fiction, it would certainly be on the list. And the timeless film would be right there with it, forever impacting the way I look at the art of movies.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

Universal is doing something incredible this year. They’re going back through their archives and releasing special editions of some of their most beloved films in a collection called “Universal 100th Anniversary Collector’s Series.” Future titles will include “Jaws,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Parenthood,” and “E.T.- The Extra-Terrestrial.” among many others. It’s going to be an incredible series and a perfect inaugural title is Robert Mulligan’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a multiple award winner and one of the most beloved films ever made.

A large part of the lasting power of “To Kill a Mockingbird” lies in Gregory Peck’s Oscar-winning performance. Who doesn’t want Atticus Finch to be their lawyer? Their father? Their role model? Finch was named by the AFI as “The Greatest Movie Hero of All Time.” He is a wildly influential character and it’s not just the way that Lee presents this pillar of courage and decency but how Peck brings him to life that has allowed him to resonate for five decades. It’s impossible to read Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and not picture Peck. Finch is as iconic a character as any from his era.

To Kill a Mockingbird was released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 31, 2012
To Kill a Mockingbird was released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 31, 2012
Photo credit: Film District

For this edition, Universal went back and remastered “To Kill a Mockingbird” from high resolution 35MM original film elements. The 1080p picture looks stellar with just the right mix of grays and line detail. I grew up watching the film on VHS and never appreciated it as a visual ode to the formative years of childhood when adolescence must be interrupted by adult lessons. The moral themes of “To Kill a Mockingbird” are strong enough to make it required reading in most English classes, but those themes could have been turned into melodrama by a less-talented group of filmmakers. Mulligan and his team didn’t just film Lee’s book. They adapted it perfectly and it’s never looked this good (nor has Elmer Bernstein’s lovely score resonated as loudly).

The special features are incredible, including the wonderful U-Control feature that allows for picture-in-picture behind-the-scenes featurettes. I can’t WAIT for the same thing to cross my eyes for movies like “Jaws” and “E.T.” It’s going to be an amazing year for Blu-ray. As if that’s not enough, there’s a feature-length documentary about the film and dozens of interviews. It’s an amazing collection — the best of the year to date.

The anniversary edition of “To Kill a Mockingbird” includes not only stellar on-disc special features but some awesome material in a booklet in the case, including a copy of Peck’s shooting script with dozens of hand-written notes. On the last page of the script he wrote four words — “fairness, stubbornness, courage, love” — and he embodied those elements in this timeless film. Everyone should read Lee’s book. And everyone should own this anniversary edition of the perfect adaptation of it.

Synopsis:
Experience one of the most significant milestones in film history like never before with To Kill A Mocking Bird: 50th Anniversary Edition. Screen legend Gregory Peck stars as courageous Southern lawyer Atticus Finch - the Academy Award-winning performance hailed by the American Film Institute as the Greatest Movie Hero of All Time. Based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about innocence, strength and conviction and nominated for 8 Academy Awards, this beloved classic is now digitally remastered and fully restored for optimum picture and sound quality and boasts hours of unforgettable bonus features. Watch it and remember why “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Special Features:
o Fearful Symmetry - A feature-length documentary on the making of To Kill A Mockingbird with cast and crew interviews and a visit to author Harper Lee’s home town.
o A Conversation With Gregory Peck - An intimate feature-length documentary on one of the most beloved actors in film history with interviews, film clips, home movies and more.
o Academy Award Best Actor Acceptance Speech
o American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award
o Excerpt From The Academy Tribute To Gregory Pack
o Scout Remember - Actress Mary Badham shares her experiences working with Gregory Peck
o Feature Commentary with Director Robert Mulligan and Producer Alan Pakula
o Theatrical Trailer
o 100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics - An in-depth look at the intricate process of preserving the studio’s film legacy
o U-Control: Scene Companion
o Pocket Blu
o BD Live Enabled
o Digital Copy Of Feature Film

“To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition” stars Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford, John Megna, Ruth White, Frank Overton, and Robert Duvall. It was adapted from the book by Harper Lee by Horton Foote and directed by Robert Mulligan. It was released on Blu-ray on January 31st, 2012.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

tysydnor's picture

didnt have to

I didnt have to read this in high school and I am 27 but my english teacher was special. As for the kids now a days I wouldnt know becacuse my son is only three and he only knows how to read one book and its by memory.lol But i would love to see the movie.

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