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Gregory Peck’s Portrayal of Atticus Finch

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In the book To Kill A Mockingbird there are many characters but one character that stands out for being strong minded and having his own unique view about Maycomb is Atticus Finch.

In the book Atticus is described thoroughly and only a few aspects of the character are left up to the imagination of the reader. For example when Atticus says to Jem and Scout,

“shoot all the blue jays you want, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” When I first read this I had to think twice before I knew what was meant by it, but in the film Gregory Peck’s body language and expression help portray what is meant by the quote and gives a clear view on what is being said.

I feel that Gregory Peck has portrayed Atticus perfectly, down to the detail of his hair and glasses. He has captured Atticus’ modest side aswell as the formal, stricter side of him.

The “Atticus was feeble he was nearly fifty” quote has much meaning to it, as it is depicted well in the novel and on screen.

In my view everyone has a different picture of Atticus Finch and his ways. In my head no one could have done a better job and that is exactly how I imagine him to be.

We can get a view of Atticus’ modesty in both the film and book from what happened at the mad dog shooting incident. When Jem and Scout find out that their father is the best shot in Maycomb county Atticus changes the subject.

“didn’t you know your daddy’s” – (Heck Tate)

“Hush Heck” (Atticus)

Aswell as this, Miss Maudie tells the children

“Well did you know he’s the best checker-player in this town?” Jem and Scout are amazed, so obviously Atticus has never told them, which again delineate his modesty.

All the separate incidents that happen in the novel are just written, so it is easy to imagine. But putting the book to screen must be exceedingly difficult as the characters, set and actions must bear a resemblance to the book and what the reader imagines it to be like. I think that the director has done a brilliant job of putting a book to screen as the characters and neighbourhood is just as I imagined, although it could be different for any other individual person as they might have imagined something totally different.

When you read the novel you are giving up your time so it becomes a part of you and you seem to be a character in the book, this is one main advantage of the book compared to the film. As you are giving up a lot more of your time to read the book than watching the film which is pressed into an hour and a half.

One other part of the film that may have excelled the novel was the use of soundtracks and music added to scenes, this would help the viewer recognise some of the emotions in the separate special scenes and highlight important parts of the story. The book could have done this by using admirable language, but still would be more difficult to achieve than by simply using sound.

The only part of the book that was missed out was Aunt Alexandra coming to stay, this could have hidden a side of Atticus to the viewer of the film as we would not know how Atticus may have behaved around family. From what Miss Maudie says we get an idea that there is only one side to Atticus.

The treatment Atticus Finch gets in the novel seems to be less harsh than in the film, especially when Bob Ewell spits in Atticus’s face and threatens to kill him.

In the book this seemed a lot less real but when acted out it is quite a powerful scene and depicts just how much anger and tension there is involved in this case. The acting brings this whole part of the story alive, whereas when reading the scene it doesn’t give the reader a very good and clear picture of the amount of tension and who it is between.

All in all I feel that Gregory Peck has done an unsurpassed job of portraying Atticus Finch. Every little detail and part of Atticus that I imagine has been brought to the screen exquisitely.

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