To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) for Rent on DVD, Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that To Kill a Mockingbird is the award-winning 1962 film adaptation of the classic Harper Lee novel. Its powerful evocation of racism and bigotry in the 1930s Deep South still resonates today, as do themes of empathy, compassion, and justice. The “N” word is used as a weapon by the lead antagonist, and when Scout Finch uses the word because kids at her school are using it, her father tells her never to use that word. In the unforgettable courtroom scene, the rape of an impoverished young white woman is discussed in detail, and over the course of the trial, abuse — and possibly incest — is implied at the hands of her father. Overall, this film is just as much of a timeless classic as the novel and should inspire family discussion of not only racism and injustice but also how values such as empathy and compassion can overcome entrenched bigotry and profound ignorance.
Scout gets into schoolyard brawls with classmates. Jem is attacked, mostly offscreen, and his arm is broken by someone stalking him and Scout. The threat of violence is portrayed through menacing looks and nighttime shadows. A man is falsely accused of rape. In a courtroom, the rape and attack are discussed in detail. A rabid dog is shot and killed.
The “N” word is used by the antagonist. It’s also used by a young girl when she tells her father, a lawyer defending an African-American man, that kids at school say that her father is defending an [“N” word]; her father tells her never to use that word. The outdated words “Negro” and “colored” also are used.
Promotes tolerance and empathy and speaks out against prejudice. Conveys a deep, moving message about the danger of fear.
Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol
Cigarette smoking. The antagonist often appears drunk.
Not an issue
Depends on your kid and your family
Not appropriate for kids of the age most likely to want to see it
Southern comforts abound in this big-screen adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel as lawyer Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck, in an Oscar-winning role) defends an innocent black man (Brock Peters) against rape charges but ends up in a maelstrom of hate and prejudice. Meanwhile, with help from a friend (John Megna), Finch’s children, Jem (Phillip Alford) and Scout (Mary Badham), set their sights on making contact with a reclusive neighbor (Robert Duvall).,