To Kill A Mockingbird 50th Anniversary (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 01-23-2012, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

83






Studio and Year: Universal - 1962
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 130 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: VC-1
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, DTS/Dolby Digital Mono, French DTS-HD Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Philip Alford, John Megna, Brock Peters, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy, Collin Wilcox
Directed by: Robert Mulligan
Music by: Elmer Bernstein
Written by: Horton Foote based on the novel by Harper Lee
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 31, 2012







"Fairness, courage, stubbornness, love"



Film Synopsis:

Experience one of the most significant milestones in film history like never before with To kill a mockingbird. Screen legend Gregory Peck stars as courageous Southern lawyer Atticus Finch - the Academy Award®-winning performance hailed by the American Film Institute as the Greatest Movie Hero of All Time. Based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel about innocence, strength and conviction and nominated for eight Academy Awards, this beloved classic is now digitally re-mastered and fully restored for optimum picture and sound quality and boasts hours of unforgettable bonus features. Watch it and remember why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.





My Take:

Gregory Peck won an Oscar for his brilliant performance as the Southern lawyer who defends a black man accused of battery/rape in this film version of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The way in which it captures a time, a place, and above all, a mood, makes this film a masterpiece. The setting is a dusty Southern town during the Depression. A white woman accuses a black man of rape and assault. Though he is obviously innocent, the outcome of his trial is such a foregone conclusion that no lawyer will step forward to defend him--except Atticus Finch, the town's most distinguished citizen. His compassionate defense may cost him friendships but deepens the respect and admiration that his two motherless children, Jem and Scout have for him.

I LOVE this film! I read the book in school and recall it being the first book that I ever read that I simply couldn't put down. I loved how the narrative was conveyed from the perspective of the children but never seemed childlike in nature. The multi-tiered storyline that dealt with the trial, the legend of Boo Radley and the small adventures shared by Jem, Scout and Dill enamored me. I saw the film after reading the book and was struck by how genuinely it captured the essence of not only the story but the characters. Like the book, the film speaks of loss of innocence, the ugliness of poverty/hate/racial prejudice, the bonds of love, devotion, and trust and the unspoken promise found in an indelible moral center. While this all sounds thematically melodramatic the film never loses itself in over pretentious posturing. Instead it draws from the wells of compassion, adventure and the timeless messages of mutual respect, kindness toward others and the exuberance of youth.

I find To kill a mockingbird to be heartwarming, poignant and emotive. The entire cast is simply marvelous but its Gregory Peck, Mary Badham and Philip Alford that make it all happen. It is hard to believe that this film marked the acting debuts of Mary and Philip. It also marked the big screen debut of Robert Duvall, who never says a word but is every bit what I envisioned Boo Radley to be. A few of my favorite moments; The opening title sequence, Scout and Jem meet Dill for the first time, Scout/Atticus and the watch, Atticus and the mad dog, Scout/Mr. Cunningham and the lynch mob at the jail, the entire courtroom sequence (concluding with the reverend telling Scout to stand upyour father's passing), the sequence that starts after the play and begins Jem/Scout's longest journey (through to the end of the film). I never tire of watching this American Classic that belongs in the collection of every film fan. Universal Studios has done a marvelous job with this Blu-ray release and I am thrilled to add to my collection. This 50th Anniversary Edition comes housed in a sturdy Blu-ray Digibook keep case containing reprints of various production related memorabilia, personal messages and photos. Here is some additional information from Universal Studios on To kill a mockingbird:

Released theatrically in 1962, To kill a mockingbird won instant accolades for its nuanced performances, splendidly crafted narrative and bold endorsement of racial tolerance, fairness and honor, a combination that still resonates with audiences today. It earned eight Academy Award nominations and three wins including a Best Actor statuette for Gregory Peck in one of his most iconic roles as the principled Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Art Direction. The prestigious American Film Institute lists To kill a mockingbird as one of the 100 Greatest American Films and also names Atticus Finch as the No. 1 Film Hero of All Time. A timeless, enduring classic that remains as relevant and impactful today as it was at its release, To kill a mockingbird's appeal continues to span generations.



Parental Guide:

This film contains thematic content and violence that would be inappropriate for young viewers.






AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 80



  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699



Video: 86


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

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  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

To kill a mockingbird comes to Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 1.8 Mbps.

This 1.85:1 framed black and white video presentation is impressive. Universal digitally remastered and restored the film from 3X resolution scans of the original 35mm elements. As enthusiasts we cringe when we hear the term digital when speaking in the same breath of it being applied to classic films. The biggest concern being the overuse of digital manipulation to manage the toll that aging can often have which generally has deleterious effects that result in unnatural looking images that barely resemble the originally filmed elements. In listening to the folks at Universal that oversaw the process used here this is something that was taken into account in an effort to meet the various challenges associated with restoring the film while preserving the integrity of the original contents. It would be fair to say that some trade offs were made however just to what extent is the key.

Right from the opening moments it is evident that the restoration was predominantly a success that delivers excellent video quality. Images onscreen have discerning depth with rendering that draws out plenty of delineation. Close ups and mid level pans reveal perceptible detail in the faces, hair and clothing worn by the cast as well as the texture on surfaces within the frame. This adds a noticeable sense of dimension to the image making it appear more lifelike. Blacks have plenty of dynamic range and consistency which plays very well against the various stages of white and gray. While there is some natural loss of visibility in dark backgrounds the level of shadow detail is quite good. The superb cinematography by Russell Harlan uses a variety of lighting schemes, transitions and purposeful shadows that translate extremely well in this high definition presentation.

Contrast is stable and supports the film's elements naturally. It is noted that the appearance of film grain has been reduced. Looking at the menu screen montage (which apparently wasn't restored?) the images are noticeably grainier. The reduction is apparent however the results aren't egregious and don't leave the type of pervasive digitally scrubbed and waxy unnaturalness that often accompanies heavily applied digital noise reduction. In fact other than only a few instances I found the image to be quite filmic and pleasing. During post production the original filmmakers used what they refer to as optical pushins which appear to be the camera zooming in during certain segments which are intended for effect (?). These can be seen during various points in the film (one occurs during Mayella's final testimony statement, another at the 2:05:52 mark as Scout/Atticus talk on the front porch) and presented a challenge during the restoration process. The image appears almost overexposed as grain and contrast are slightly magnified. This is innate and has nothing to do with the restorative process. I didn't notice any signs of noise/artifacts or video related distractions. 50 years later this wonderful film looks terrific thanks to a well executed restoration.

There are both stereo and multi-channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks available on this release, (I chose the latter during my viewing). The 5.1 channel mix won't knock your socks off but I found it delivered the components of the original recording beautifully. The auditory is clean and free of unwanted clicks, pops or background hiss. Dialogue intelligibility is excellent as it is never lost amidst the other sounds coming through the center channel. The additional channels provide Elmer Bernstein's superb music score with an open expression that adds a bit more emphasis. Purists will appreciate the time and effort that went into maintaining the integrity of this great film's original elements. This is a terrific audio/video presentation that will allow those seeing this classic film for the first time to experience it looking and sounding better than it ever has on home video. Kudos to Universal Studios.



Bonus Features:


  • Fearful symmetry - 90 minute documentary on the making of To kill a mockingbird - featuring cast/crew interviews and a visit to author Harper Lees home town

  • A conversation with Gregory Peck - 97 minute documentary/Q&A

  • (HD) 100 years of Universal: Restoring the classics - An in-depth look at the film restoration process - 9 minutes

  • Academy Award Best Actor speech - Gregory Peck's remarks after winning the Oscar for his performance in To kill a mocking bird

  • AFI Life Achievement Award - Gregory Pecks remarks upon receipt of the award - 10 minutes

  • Excerpt from Tribute to Gregory Peck - Daughter Cecilia Pecks remarks at the Academy celbration of his life - 10 minutes

  • Scout remembers - Actress Mary Badham shares her experiences working on the film and with Gregory Peck - 12 minutes

  • Feature length audio commentary with director Robert Mulligan and producer Alan Pakula

  • Original Theatrical trailer

  • U-Control: Viewers can watch interviews, see photos and more during key scenes with this picture-in-picture companion that includes narration by Gregory Peck's Family.

  • pocket BLU

  • My scenes bookmark feature

  • BD-Live

  • Bonus DVD of To kill o mockingbird

  • Digital Copy


Final Thoughts:

To kill a mockingbird is considered by many to be actor Gregory Peck's crowning achievement (he says it is his personal favorite). It is one of my all time favorites and there is no denying its significance or place among the upper echelon of American films. It makes it debut on Blu-ray Disc in this superb 50th Anniversary Edition that is part of Universal Studios 100th Anniversary Collector's Series home video releases. It features tweaked but beautifully restored high definition video, faithfully reproduced lossless sound quality and previously released but complimentary bonus supplements and commemoratives material that heighten the wonderful experience that To kill a mockingbird is. A must have for every film fan this excellent Blu-ray offering from Universal Studios Home Entertainment comes highly recommended.









attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






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post #2 of 18 Old 01-23-2012, 11:27 AM
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Great review,Ralph.I'll be picking up my copy on Day 1.Can't wait!
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post #3 of 18 Old 01-23-2012, 12:48 PM
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Nice review Ralph. One of my all time favorite movies and I also have it on order.

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post #4 of 18 Old 01-23-2012, 12:54 PM
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Never actually saw this movie. I read and enjoyed the book though a few years back
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post #5 of 18 Old 01-23-2012, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Stormshadow4life View Post

Never actually saw this movie. I read and enjoyed the book though a few years back

IMHO it's just about the finest English language film ever made.My advice...buy it,rent it,steal it...but see it!
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post #6 of 18 Old 01-23-2012, 05:29 PM
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Great review...pre-ordered on Amazon...a must have!
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post #7 of 18 Old 01-23-2012, 10:42 PM
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There are so many unforgettable things about this film, truly one of the greatest ever made and one whose well-deserved stature will in the future, I think, be impervious to the whims of the day.

What has stuck with me the most is the music over the opening credits. In the early part of his career, Bernstein could be a true genius at capturing the sense of a film in a few bars--"The Magnificent Seven" and "The Great Escape" being two other notable examples.
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post #8 of 18 Old 01-24-2012, 03:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simon_templar_32 View Post

What has stuck with me the most is the music over the opening credits. In the early part of his career, Bernstein could be a true genius at capturing the sense of a film in a few bars--"The Magnificent Seven" and "The Great Escape" being two other notable examples.

Also, "The Buccaneers," where the music captured what SHOULD have been the exciting, swashbuckling, attitude of the movie (but the music was much better than the movie).

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post #9 of 18 Old 01-24-2012, 07:57 AM
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They don't make 'em like Gregory Peck anymore. I can't recall seeing him in a film I didn't like. His presence alone could overcome even the weakest story. I'll be replacing my dvd with this one for sure.
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post #10 of 18 Old 01-24-2012, 08:14 AM
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Thanks Ralph.

I hadn't seen that "To Kill a Mockingbird" had been a restoration project until just now and will have a copy as soon as possible.

It's notable that not only does the American Film Institute rank the film within it's top 100 list it also ranks it in it's ten best films of diverse catagories: "To Kill a Mockingbird" is concidered by that group to be the best of the "Courtroom Drama" genre.
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post #11 of 18 Old 01-25-2012, 02:58 PM
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Thanks for this review of a true American classic. I saw this film in 1962 and it's always occupied a special place in my movie consciousness. Gregory Peck is a class act and I have never forgotten Mary Badham (related to the director John Badham) as Scout. A day 1 purchase for me.


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post #12 of 18 Old 01-25-2012, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormshadow4life View Post

Never actually saw this movie. I read and enjoyed the book though a few years back

THe movie is all that!

I'd put the movie on the same level as Shawshank Redemption. Not as `rewatchable' as SR but great nonetheless!
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post #13 of 18 Old 01-26-2012, 12:08 PM
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I don't recall ever seeing this movie, but judging by everyone's excitement about it, I guess it's time for me to put eyes and ears on it...
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post #14 of 18 Old 01-28-2012, 03:53 AM
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Can't wait to pick this up.

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Must have.
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post #16 of 18 Old 01-31-2012, 07:02 PM
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Got my copy today and just slipped it into the PS3 just to check...don't have time to watch from beginning to end.For the first few minutes the PQ is BREATHTAKING.Far,far,FAR superior to the DVD! Looks like it could have been filmed yesterday,not 50 years ago.
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post #17 of 18 Old 02-01-2012, 06:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by listerone View Post

Got my copy today and just slipped it into the PS3 just to check...don't have time to watch from beginning to end.For the first few minutes the PQ is BREATHTAKING.Far,far,FAR superior to the DVD! Looks like it could have been filmed yesterday,not 50 years ago.

Agreed. I did the same thing last night. Put in the player to make sure the disk was okay, and watched the opening credits. Wow. Hard to believe it is 50 years old.
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post #18 of 18 Old 02-01-2012, 08:03 PM
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Watched this all the way through. What a great film, but I still prefer the novel.

PQ is quite variable, you can easily see the different lenses used. I suspect that they sometimes used a longer lens instead of having the camera up close to the kids. Audio is surprisingly clear. Nicely done, Universal.
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