What It Takes to Kill a Mockingbird: In Search for the Differences between the Novel and a Movie Essay
Adapting a novel into a good movie is not an easy task; it is especially difficult when the novel is something like To Kill a Mockingbird. Such novels exist on their own. They do not need to have movies made about them; but when a movie is made, the only way for the latter to justify its existence is to be perfect. If the novel is not broken, no one should try to fix it. Luckily, the adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird is just as brilliant as its original source.
However, to fit the running time, Mulligan has to cut several scenes. Despite the fact that cutting these scenes never hurt the movie canvas, it is actually rather peculiar to consider the implications behind the director’s choices.
The First Difference: The Scene with Camellias
Perhaps, the first difference to be named in this list is the conflict between the children and Mrs. Dubose. In the book, the old lady teases the children, being an old and unpleasant scandalmonger. Once after going to a parade with Scout, Jem hits the roof and destroys Mrs. Dubose’s garden of camellias. After being punished and forced to read to Mrs. Dubose, Jem gets to know his enemy better and, much to his surprise, feels that the wall between them starts to ruin.
After her untimely death, Jen finds out that she was also addicted to morphine yet managed to get rid of this habit, and Jem unknowingly helped her to: “She took it as a pain-killer for years. The doctor put her on it. She’d have spent the rest of her life on it and died without so much agony, but she was too contrary—” (Lee 60).The scene in which Jem receives the gift from the deceased, a camellia, and becomes completely overwhelmed, is a very strong moment which, sadly enough, is not represented in the movie.
The Second Difference: Fighting for Justice
The characters both in the novel and in the movie were often pushed to the breaking point; however, one of such moments described in the book was left out of the movie. The scene in which Scout fights her cousin and gets punished for it sheds much light on her as an emotional character who will always stand for justice.
The Third Difference: A Bedtime Story
The last, but definitely not the least, the final part of the novel, in which Atticus reads Scout Jem’s book does not add much to the plot; neither does it reveal any more significant details about the characters. Therefore, the reasons for Mulligan to leave it out of the film are understood.
However, the story about the Ink Boy, whom Atticus reads about, sums up the whole story in a nutshell: “An‘ they chased him ’n‘ never could catch him ’cause they didn’t know what he looked like, an‘ Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things… Atticus, he was real nice…” (Lee 49).
It is clear that Harper Lee wanted to reiterate the key message of the novel in the final chapter; however, while looking natural and touching in a book, the given scene would have looked redundant after a nonetheless touching moment of Scout talking to Boo Radley.
It can be assumed that the aforementioned scenes would have hardly made the movie any more impressive than it already is. Introducing these plotlines would be rather challenging, since these scenes would have added more subplots to the film, making it unnecessarily complicated.
Lee, Harper Nelle. To Kill a Mockingbird. 1960. Web.
Mulligan, Robert (Prod. and Dir.). To Kill a Mockingbird. Hollywood, CA: Universal Studios. 1962. DVD. 22 Jun. 2013.
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