The movie based on John Grisham's A Time to Kill is a Hollywoodized, modern-day version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Both movies employ many of the same themes and plot elements; but the former movie is one-dimensional and predictable while the latter is innovative and purposeful. The movie version of Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird is considered a classic film, whereas John Grisham?s adapted novel is merely another example of the money making efforts of Hollywood.
Some of the movies' more prominent themes are the same. Both focus on the family, particularly the role of the father. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Attacus, who is based on the father of author Harper Lee, is an upstanding parent. Not only is he an excellent role model for his children, but he takes time to talk to his children. He respects them as growing individuals, allowing them to call him Attacus, and explains important issues rather than discounting them. Jake cherishes his daughter more than ever when he compares her hypothetically to his client?s victimized daughter Tonya. The power of the family institution is reiterated when Carl takes revenge upon the offenders who raped Tonya. These ties drive an otherwise socially conforming man into violating the sanctity of human life in cold blood without regret.
Another motivation that inspires his action is the personal degradation he must have experienced as a black man in a racist community that includes backwoods deviants, who look down upon the blacks in the community. Hate crimes appear in both movies, including hate-fueled riots, attempted lynchings, and the reappearance of the Ku Klux Klan. Other manifestations of racism were realized as well, such as injustice in the court system and the school system, where, in both movies, the protagonists? children are continually taunted for being the progeny of a ?nigger lover.?
The classic figure of the hero is at the forefront of the plot in each movie. Both lawyers put their lives on the line for the liberty of a client without expecting compensation. Attacus does so because he believes in justice and knows it?s the right thing to do, whereas Jake simply empathizes with his client, especially by projecting his daughter into Tonya?s experience. Either way, these men sacrifice themselves for the sake of others, a defining characteristic of heroes. Attacus especially is...
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Most modern movies fail to explore issues that are controversial or simply thought-provoking. Racism was a very serious problem in the South when To Kill a Mockingbird was written. Many people tried to ignore or forget about this problem rather than face it, but the book boldly confronts it and provokes the viewer to do the same. Since A Time to Kill came out after society as a whole stopped tolerating racism for the most part, this issue is almost a cliché, certainly no longer eye-opening. The closest this movie comes to an interesting thought is when Carl tells Jake in prison that they cannot be friends because Jake looks at him and sees a black man, rather than just a man. This is an interesting aspect of racism which asserts that as long as whites view blacks as the other, they can never connect on the same level. Unfortunately, this idea is left completely undeveloped. Jake does bring it up at the end, but only to tell Carl that he was totally wrong about him.
A Time to Kill does have a few intense and touching scenes, but in the end it is only another money-making cheap entertainment movie, whereas To Kill a Mockingbird is an immortal classic.
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