“Unless you become like a little child, you shall never enter the kingdom of God.” – Jesus
I wonder if Harper Lee had these words echoing in her head when she wrote the novel To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960. Or if director Robert Mulligan recalled them when he cast Oscar nominated Mary Badham to play Scout in the 1962 film version of the novel.
It is through Scout’s eyes that the story of her courageous father, Atticus Finch, is told; of him taking on a racially prejudiced jury as the defending attorney for a black man charged with the rape of a white woman. It is through her eyes that her brother Jem, their friend Dill, and she, investigate and ultimately befriend a reclusive, odd neighbor named Boo Radley whom the town gossips have labeled a monster.
And it is through her eyes that poverty, racism, and abuse are exposed in the little town of Maycomb, Alabama, but also innocently forgiven and put aside in the face of the humanity that Scout sees in everyone around her. It is her innocence that carries this beautiful, tragic, but deeply redemptive story that could have happened in any town, in any country, in any time in history, in which a good man and his children do not give in to the chaos of sin all around them.
This film is a masterpiece and one that its original author, Harper Lee, called “A work of art.” Watch a clip here: