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To Kill a Mockingbird Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English DTS 2.0 Mono; French DTS 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
  • Region: A (B? C?)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD + Digital Copy)
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 31, 2012
  • List Price: $26.98

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To Kill A Mockingbird (2 Disc) (W/Dvd) - Widescreen Anniversary

Purchase To Kill a Mockingbird on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

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Overall
[Rating:5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)


The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

There is a short list of self-recommending film versions of best-sellers and Robert Mulligan’s adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird easily makes the cut. Gregory Peck (Atticus Finch) has his finest hour along with an incredible cast, particularly the children (Philip Alford, son Jem Finch and Mary Badham, daughter “Scout” Finch).  This film also marked the debuts of later-to-be famous actors Robert Duvall (Boo Radley), William Windom (Mr. Gilmer, District Attorney), and Alice Ghostley (Dill’s Aunt Stephanie). The story is set in the 1930’s South where memories of the Civil War were only one generation removed from the minds of the townsfolk. Atticus Finch, an attorney of modest means and a widower, is charged with the defense of Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a black man accused of raping a white woman. As the trial progresses, it strips away the town’s veneer and its unvarnished hypocrisy, baring the immense racial divide in that era’s America.

The film noir has been lovingly restored by Universal Studios with a picture that belies its age. Elmer Bernstein’s score creates the perfect atmosphere and the soundtrack is clear and dynamic.  To Kill a Mockingbird garnered eight 1962 Oscar nominations, winning three (Best Actor, Best Screenplay Adaptation, and Best Black-and-White Art Direction).

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Russell Harlan’s no-nonsense cinematography in glorious black and white was well received in its day. The renaissance of fifty year-old films can yield very mixed results, but I am happy to report that, in this case, the efforts have paid off extremely well. Closeups are very clean and even background scenes have reasonable resolution.  There are brief patches of graininess but for the most part these have been effectively mitigated and details such as the herringbone pattern on Atticus’ jacket are clear as day.We can thank the restoration crew for getting at the 35 mm original film elements and milking them for all they were worth, and they were well worth it.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

This may not be an original multi-channel high definition recording but you could not tell it by, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio which gives surprising clarity, depth, and body. The resulting soundtrack does justice to a score as good as this one, rendered by legendary composer Elmer Bernstein. Dialogue is also very well presented, a critical factor when so much of the film’s drama is bound up in the characters’ speech.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

Jackpot! Do we have some extra features to enjoy!  There is an indispensable “Fearful Symmetry,” a feature-length documentary on the making of the film. Four of the other supplements focus on Academy Award winner Gregory Peck, his life, his Oscar, tributes from the Academy and American Film Institute, and a remembrance by Mary Badham (Scout). A mini-documentary on film restoration and theatrical trailers fill out the package.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:5/5]

To Kill a Mockingbird is as fresh and sensitive today as it was 50 years ago. Granted, this country has changed considerably since the period of Harper Lee’s story. But here, in this film, everything comes together perfectly, the script, the cinematography, the score, and most of all the cast. The human elements are given their due, as the characters become real people inhabited by skilled actors. The court room scene may be the film’s dramatic high point, but the real strengths lie in the smaller intimate scenes between Peck and the actors depicting his children. This may not be Gone With The Wind in scale or sweep, but it is a depiction of The South as it probably was seventy five years ago, both the good and the bad. Some viewers may find the racial epithets offensive while others might take issues with the less than sterling portrayal of the average townsperson whether joining an ad hoc mob or sitting stonily on an all-white jury bench. However, this was Harper Lee’s take on the reality of the era and those involved with the making of the film made every effort to be true to her vision. This anniversary Blu-ray is a such a good restoration that you wish these efforts could carry over to all classic films released in this hi-def medium.  Highly recommended in all respects as an essential part of anyone’s movie collection.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B006FE83U4[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
To Kill A Mockingbird (2 Disc) (W/Dvd) - Widescreen Anniversary

Purchase To Kill a Mockingbird on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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