“Some men in this world are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us… your father is one of them”
Legendary classic though it is, I’d never seen 1962′s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ although it did feel like I had. Scenes, lines, music, characters and story elements are so ubiquitous in popular culture that I already felt familiar with it through sheer osmosis. When I saw the new 50th Anniversary Blu-Ray in HMV I had to have it. The Blu-Ray disc comes within a thick hardbound scrap-book full of ephemera related to the film including reproductions of; the shooting schedule, Peck’s own script notes, stamps, storyboards, posters, press clippings and congratulatory even telegrams. It’s one of the most beautifully packaged presentations I’ve seen or owned (‘Apocalypse Now’ is still the best though), the kind of tactile experience that you just don’t get with a download.
Now onto what you get on the disc itself; most impressively you get two feature-length documentaries (So that’s three films for the price of one folks!), a Producer/Director commentary, an assortment of clips and featurettes and best of all (For film-geeks like me anyway) a documentary on the meticulous frame-by-frame restoration of the film undertaken by Universal Studios. Which brings me onto the staggering image quality which maybe the best preserved black and white film I’ve yet seen on Blu-Ray. In short, go out and buy it now!
Of course the film itself is incredible too, starting with the gorgeously shot opening credits. As towering, brave and decent as Gregory Peck’s Oscar-winning presence is it’s the naturalistic performances from the children that steal the show. Director Robert Mulligan’s decision to shoot the film entirely from a child’s-eye perspective is inspired. This allows us the viewer to intimately see their seemingly idyllic Southern town existence slowly being eroded by the dark underbelly of racism.
Universal have lavished the same Blu-Ray treatment on to a number of other films as part of their Centenary, including 1930′s ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’ so I’ve already put that on my shopping list.