It can be said that To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most beloved novels of all time. There is something so powerful about witnessing the discovery of good and evil through the eyes of a young girl. While the novel paints a beautiful first-person perspective of Scout’s experiences, I believe that the film adaptation did an equally beautiful job of allowing us to see through Scout’s eyes. One of the key elements that allow us to gain a better understanding of what Scout is seeing and experiencing is through cinematography.
For this reason, I have chosen to discuss the cinematography in a scene within the film that allows the viewer to share in one of the most intense and vulnerable moments of Jean Louise Finch’s young life. It is the scene where Bob Ewell attacks Jem and Scout. The scene begins on Halloween night. It parallels almost perfectly with the novel. The school pageant in which Scout played a Ham has come to an end and everyone has left the school auditorium except Jem and Scout. After searching far and wide for her lost dress and shoes, Scout exits the building with nothing but her ham costume and decides she will return tomorrow for her belongings. The brother and sister then begin their journey into the woods toward home. The low-key lighting adds an element of eeriness to the scene. It almost seems as if the moonlight is the only light guiding their way.
After walking for a while, Jem stops a moment because he thinks he hears something. Scout says, “You hear my costume rustlin’. Aw, it’s just Halloween got you…” (349). The suspense continues to build as the scene changes from a medium shot of the children to a close up shot of Jem’s face as they continue walkin...
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... approaches this question by dramatizing Scout and Jem’s transition from a perspective of childhood innocence, in which they assumed that people were good, because they had never seen evil, to a more adult perspective, in which they had confronted evil and must incorporate it into their understanding of the world” (Xi and Li-li).
In conclusion, through cinematography, we are able to experience this traumatizing event with Scout. The low-key lighting, the fast, sudden cuts, and the heavy breathing all work together to intensify the feelings of fear and tension we originally experienced when we read the novel. The translation from novel to film is not always easily accomplished, but this adaptation adds more life to the story while staying true to its important message. It is no wonder that both the novel and film have been loved by audiences so for many years.
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