Hollywood doesn’t always get it right when adapting great novels, but they sure stroked it out of the park with To Kill a Mockingbird, despite the additional challenge of having to please moviegoers who’d be measuring the script against a book which most of them would have read, and loved (this may be why canny directors decide to adapt relatively crummy books like the The Godfather, Jaws, and Bridges of Madison County). There are many moving and memorable scenes throughout – one thinks immediately of the confrontation on the steps of the local jail, and the moment when Scout’s rescuer is revealed to have been the much-maligned Boo Radley, who turns out to be a gentle soul – but the one that always gets me, literally makes me cry, is the attached, which occurs immediately after Atticus has failed to save his innocent black client from a wrongful conviction based purely in racism. Lost in thought, profoundly sad, he packs up his papers and goes, oblivious to his surroundings – and the poor black folk in the segregated gallery stand. Spontaneously, and out of sheer respect, they stand. That’s what you do when a man like that leaves the room.
Scout, too young to understand, remains crouched on the floor, until the kindly older gentlemen says “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your Father’s passing”.
That’s when I lose it. Every time, including right now.