Considering the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, one can claim that this piece, though rather old and deprived of special effects so popular in the modern cinematography is still a perfect specimen of how a good movie must be shot. It is quite peculiar that, despite the black-and-white cast of colors, the movie benefits due to the camera movement. For instance, in the piece where Scout rides the tire, the camera moving sides, making the picture toss and turn, offers the audience a ride together with Scout.
Speaking of the movements which convey the essence of the film without any speech “intrusion”, it would be a good idea to drive the example of Boo Radley standing in the darker corner of the room and watching Jem lie unconscious. As Scout takes him by the hand, the way he moves describes him better than any words can – it is really weird to see how a grown-up man, rather big, walks so awkward and uncertain.
As the plot of the movie unwinds, one can trace the pattern of the shots length. Most of them rather lengthy, they allow the audience to understand each of the movie characters better, making each of them individual.
Thought the use of the high- and low-angle shots in the movie is minimized, most of the shots being taken at the eye level, the movie scenes look even more impressive with the rare low shots taken. Thus, the low shot of Jem hiding in his tree house and Atticus watching him from beneath looks most hilarious.
Considering the composition, it is important to mark that the most crucial scenes in the movie are structured according to the rule of thirds. A perfect example of such scene is the shot of Dill and Jem approaching the house where Boo Radley lived: in the given scene, the porch of the house serves as a foreground, with the boys in the center of the composition, their emotions clearly seen even through the dark of the night, and the bushes where Scout was left behind as the background of the shot.
It is quite peculiar that the camera movement in each scene is used to enhance the effect of the acting. Sometimes swift and almost chaotic, sometimes slow and making time stop, the camera emphasizes the strain within the plot and makes the emotions of the characters and the situations in the movie as natural as they can be. For example, the way the camera swings in the scene where Atticus, Scout, Jem and Walter Cunningham are having dinner makes the dialogue livelier and more natural.
In terms of cinematography alone, one can notice that the movie skips certain pieces of the novel. On the one hand, this could be an attempt to make the film more vivid; yet on the other hand it seems that the intention of the screenwriter was to create the right impression of the lead characters. This can explain why the scene of Jem and Scout destroying Mrs. Dubose camellia garden, in which the two children act like real savages.
Unique and inspiring, To Kill a Mockingbird will always remain a perfect example of what a really good movie is. In spite of the fact that it was shot in the distant 1946, it still has a lot to be astound of, including the shooting techniques as well. It was both the perfect acting and the amazing technique which led the film to the top of cinematographic art.