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The film version of To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), which stars Gregory Peck as Atticus and Mary Badham as Scout, is as much a classic as the novel itself. (The film received eight Academy Awards nominations and netted awards for Best Actor, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, and Best Art Direction — Set Decoration, Black and White.)

Ideally, a novel and its film version complement each other, which, on many levels, is the case with To Kill a Mockingbird. However, film can accomplish things that novels can't, and vice versa. Likewise, film has limitations that a novel doesn't. This essay explores some of the differences between To Kill a Mockingbird, the film and the novel.


By its nature, film is a visual medium, which makes a first-person story difficult to tell. To have Scout narrating throughout the film as she does in the book would prove distracting, so Scout as narrator is only presented to set the mood of a scene in the film. As a result, viewers don't get a strong sense of Scout's first-person narration as they do in the book; instead, they simply notice the childlike perspective portrayed in the story. (The film uses music to help reinforce the child's point of view. The music is very elementary, and much of the score is composed of single notes without chords or embellishments.)

Because the narration is not as straightforward in the film, the film seems to shift more to Jem's experiences. For example, Jem finds all the articles in the tree. Jem accompanies Atticus to tell Helen Robinson of her husband's death. Jem is left alone to watch his sister. Scout is still an important character, but the film expands on her brother's role.


A film has less time to tell its story and therefore often concentrates the events of a story into fewer characters; when a book makes the transition to film, characters and their actions are often combined. For instance, Miss Stephanie Crawford is Dill's aunt and Cecil...
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