Maybe it doesn’t quite yet feel like fall here in New York, but the lame weather won’t stop me from pulling out my fall movies — the ones that make the air feel crisp, even if it’s beyond muggy. Maybe it’s some sort of Pavlovian response dating to 7th grade English class, or perhaps it’s the chill-inducing climactic scene, but every September, like clockwork, I just have to watch To Kill a Mockingbird.
For those who need a cliff-notes reminder: To Kill a Mockingbird, an adaptation of the novel by Harper Lee, is the story of sister and brother Scout and Jem. Set in Depression-era Alabama, we follow the pair through two summers and a fall in which they make friends with the puny next door neighbor Dill (supposedly modeled after a young Truman Capote), try to puzzle out the mysteries of their next door neighbor, Boo Radley, and watch their father, the legendary lawyer Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck), defend Tom Robinson, an innocent black man accused of raping a white girl, in front of a jury and town who will not see past the color of his skin.
Something that struck me when I recently watched To Kill a Mockingbird was how much of the film takes place in darkness. While the movie is very much about a certain childhood innocence that both Scout and Jem lose (and a certain wisdom that they gain) during the trial of Tom Robinson, watching now, I felt like the movie was even more about how that innocence is itself a myth. Shadow is pervasive in the film, and so is subtext. While we watch Scout, Jem and Dill carry out the escapades of children, somehow we always know that they understand a bit more than the world gives them credit for.
If you haven’t revisited the film, or the book, in a while – you should. The story is one of the sublime creations of 20th century America. And, while certain subtleties from the book were lost in the film (this happens, and I'm not one to complain, but the plaintiff, Mayella, gets the short shrift on celluloid), it remains a complex and rich portrait of a time, place, and people.
The meal below comes from a moment in the film when Scout learns an important lesson: it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird ... and to make fun of your guest for pouring syrup all over his supper.
(I couldn't find a good quality trailer so instead, I bring you one of my favorite scenes.)
Currently a Creative Technologist working over at Campfire. Recent grad of NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, where I played around with interactive video and mobile storytelling. Former video and editing accomplice here @ Food52.
In other lives: worked on the HBO Documentary Make Me Young: Youth Knows No Pain & The New York Public Library’s Biblion: The Boundless Library.
At the moment, I'm really into feta.