AFInity: To Kill a Mockingbird
By Kim Hollis
December 8, 2009
We're a list society. From Casey Kasem and the American Top 40 to 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die to BOP's very own Best Horror Films (one of our most popular features ever), people love to talk about lists. They love to debate the merits of the "winners" and bemoan the exclusions, and start the whole process again when a new list captures pop culture fancy.
Perhaps one of the best-known, most widely discussed lists is the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Movies. A non-profit organization known for its efforts at film restoration and screen education, the AFI list of the 100 best American movies was chosen by 1,500 leaders in the movie industry and announced in its first version in 1998. Since then, the 100 Years... 100 Movies list has proven to be so popular that the AFI came forth with a 10th anniversary edition in 2007, along with other series such as 100 Heroes and Villains, 100 Musicals, 100 Laughs and 100 Thrills.
In addition to talking about which films are deserving of being on the list and bitterly shaking our fists because a beloved film was left out, we also love to brag about the number of movies we've seen. As I was looking over the 100 Years... 100 Movies list recently, I realized that I've seen 47 - less than half. As a lover of film and writer/editor for a movie site, this seemed like a wrong that needed to remedied. And so an idea was born. I would watch all 100 movies on the 2007 10th Anniversary list - some of them for the first time in as much as 20 or more years - and ponder their relevance, worthiness and influence on today's film industry. With luck, I'll even discover a few new favorites along the way.
#25: To Kill a Mockingbird
Every once in awhile, there are movies, books, songs or shows that we really connect with. Perhaps it's because they have some association to real events in our own lives, or maybe it's that we have an affinity for the actors involved. Or maybe there's just an unexplainable something that sets off a spark in our minds and hearts. For me, To Kill a Mockingbird is just such a film, and for the latter reason.
I'd never seen the movie adaptation of Harper Lee's novel before today. My father had given me the book when I was a teenager, and I've read it at least three times since then. Needless to say, there was something about the story that spoke to me. The movie, which was released in 1962, was something I'd always meant to get around to. But, of course, there are hundreds of movies, books, video games and television series that I've intended to watch, and the list grows larger all the time. It's only through the magic of the AFI project that I'm forcing myself to take a couple of hours each week to watch a time-honored classic. And what a rewarding experience it's turning out to be.