By Jacob Montgomery (Texas)
I have seen almost 1,500 movies many of them are classic staples of what many consider to be the bona fide masterpieces of cinema. I have sat through many Best Picture winners, Hitchcock thrillers, AFI’s contenders for the best films ever made and so on. You might be wondering why I am bringing this up at all. The reason for this is because I want you to understand the weight of what I am about to say, and understand that, while there are still a lot of films I haven’t seen, I am well versed in cinema and have seen my fair share of masterpieces. That way when I say that To Kill a Mockingbird is my all-time favorite film, it has some significance.
It is almost pointless for me to talk about this film, because everybody has already talked about how phenomenal it is. There isn’t a single person out there who hasn’t already praised the acting, most especially from Gregory Peck and Mary Badham who literally became their respective characters. There also isn’t a single person who hasn’t talked about how faithful of an adaptation it is, and how it managed to perfectly capture the essence and power of Harper Lee’s magnum opus.
Instead of going on and on about why this film is so good, and reiterating points you’ve probably hear about the film a thousand times already, I instead want to explain why this is my all-time favorite film.
To me, I’ve always viewed film as an illusion, because that’s exactly what it is. We know, deep in the back of our minds, that what we are seeing on screen is not real. But we don’t mind, and we let ourselves become immersed in the experience. However, the more times a movie makes a mistake of some kind, it does take the viewer out of it and when it does, you start picking it apart until soon, there’s nothing left for the movie to stand on. That’s how I personally judge movies, not necessarily by outweighing their pros and cons, but on how well it can make me forget that I’m actually watching a film.
To Kill a Mockingbird is so far the only film I’ve seen that never took me out of the experience; ever. I’ve seen this film maybe 5 or 6 times, and every time I do I’ve looked up and down trying to find something wrong with it, but I can’t find any. Its story is so engaging and simple that it’s almost impossible to not be drawn into it. The film’s ultimate message of tolerance and standing up for what you think is right is a powerful one, and one that still resonates today, and will continue to do so as the years go by. The characters are wonderful and memorable, portrayed by wonderful actors who literally became them. The film’s dialogue and pacing flow naturally, the directing is simplistic and yet effective, and it’s ultimately a very powerful film.
Although I do think that there is no such thing as a perfect film, there are films that are perfect for some people. I’ve always been able to find some kind of story problem with any other film, except for this one. To me, this is the only perfect film I’ve seen so far. Is there any other film out there that could dethrone it from that top spot? I suppose that’s possible, but it’s highly unlikely. I have a feeling that this will remain in my top spot, and I’ll never find another film that manages to inspire me or better immerse me than this one. This is the film that I use to compare other films.
I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me gush over this film, so I’ll end with this; if you haven’t seen this yet, I cannot stress enough my recommendation for it. It’s made my top spot for a good reason.