Book Rating: 5/5 stars
Movie Rating: ⅘ stars
If you have ever watched a movie based on a novel, you may have noticed that the movie does not include all of the parts found in the book. To Kill a Mockingbird is an award-winning Bildungsroman, written by the great Harper Lee, which was made into a movie in 1962, by Robert Mulligan. Although the movie does include the major events that occurred in the book, it does leave out scenes which really take away from the perfectly written story.
To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in South Alabama, during the 1930’s, at the time of the Great Depression. The story focuses on Scout (Mary Badham), a young girl who lives with her older brother Jem (Phillip Alford), and wise father Atticus (Gregory Peck), in the fictional town of Maycomb County. Scout is faced with the racism and inequality of the town and views the evilness and injustice of the adult world through naive and innocent lenses. As a teenage girl, I was interested to see how Scout grew and matured throughout the book, learning from both Atticus and the immoral society that surrounds her. This is why I was disappointed with the movie, for not capturing the changes in Scout’s perspective and mentality, due to missing scenes, missing characters and the narration of the story itself.
An important character from the book that was left out of the movie was Aunt Alexandra. In the story, Aunt Alexandra is Atticus’ sister; the aunt of Jem and Scout. As a strong supporter of gender roles, Aunt Alexandra disapproves of Scout’s masculine way of dressing and always insists on her acting more ladylike. With no mother at home and only the influence of an older brother, Scout knows no other than to dress and act like a tom-boy; playing outside instead of inside and going by Scout instead of Jean Louise. In Maycomb, strict gender stereotypes are present and the line between masculinity and femininity is rarely crossed. Making Scout a tomboy was Harper Lee’s way of going against society’s guidelines and challenging the setting. Today, gender roles are still present in our society. Due to the lack of Aunt Alexandra in the movie, we are unable to see the existing gender roles and stereotypes of the time.
The movie To Kill a Mockingbird does not include all scenes that occur in the book. In the book, Mrs.Dubose is neighbor of the Finch’s, whom Scout describes as “plain hell”. Despite being a handicapped elder, Mrs. Dubose says enough to frighten both Jem and Scout anytime they pass by her porch. She plays an important role in the book since she taught Jem an important life lesson. One day, as Jem and Scout were passing by Mrs. Dubose’s porch, she, as always, engaged them into conversation. Rather than simply making some rude remark, this time, Mrs. Dubose crosses the line, as she refers to Atticus as a “nigger lover”. This infuriates Jem, who later comes back and rips the flowers off her camellia bushes. The scene lets us see how Jem, who is progressively maturing throughout the book, is not an adult yet, as he simply loses control of his emotions. As a result, he is forced to read to Mrs. Dubose every day after school, as a punishment for his action. Although Mrs. Dubose does appear in the movie, this specific scene does not, which does not allow the audience to see a change in Jem’s behavior, after he learns an important lesson on human dignity.
The novel To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated by Scout herself. As an unreliable narrator, Scout explains the occurring events of Maycomb throughout her naive perspective. Being a child, Scout does not sugarcoat things, nor does she bend the facts to her will. She explains things exactly how she sees them and although she might not understand the meaning of several situations, she still gives her honest opinion on them. In the movie, we can also hear Scout narrating the story a couple of times. However, she only does so a few amount of times. As a result, we are unable to see her thinking evolve and mature throughout the movie like it does in the book. Due to her innocence, Scout does not see the harm and evilness of Maycomb County, nor of the people who live there.
The lack of parts and characters from the book To Kill a Mockingbird to its movie counterpart, do not deliver the original message that Harper Lee intended to leave behind with her astonishing novel. With each and every detail taken into account, Harper Lee has written a defectless novel, which does not, by any mean, need to be changed. Although the movie To Kill a Mockingbird does quite resemble its novel, it does not include the necessary elements to meet it’s book standards.