The film is similar to the book in some ways, and different in other ways.
This is shown by all of the main characters, and there are contrasts throughout the trial. In the film, Atticus is portrayed as a much more calm person. He rests on the side of the witness box and keeps the tone of his voice the same, not raising it at any point. In the book however, Atticus does raise his voice and is a lot harsher. "Except When?..
Except when he's drinking? " Atticus fires the questions at Mayella rapidly, hardly giving her time to answer. He raises his voice and the reader can see that he is becoming distressed.The lines are the same in the film; however Gregory Peck is calm and patient. The camera shot in the film extremely. Another example of a complete contrast in the situation is on page 225.
He tells the members of the jury and the crowd how racist they are. He emphasizes that Maycombs beliefs are that "all Negroes lie... .
.. all Negroes are not to be trusted. " The way this is written shows the reader that Atticus is annoyed at the entire community and that he is making them realizes that they are stereotyping and are racially prejudice. At the end of the trial in the film however, at the closing comments, not once do we see this.
Atticus doesn't lose his temper at all. For instance, when Bob Ewell has finished talking to Mr. Gilmer, he 'barges' past Atticus, yet Gregory Peck, as the character does nothing except calmly ask if he "could ask a few questions. " This is demonstrated again and again throughout. Tom Robinson plays a key part in the trial.
He is portrayed in both the film and the book as being a kind and gentle man. However, at the beginning of the trial scene in the book, we learn that Tom Robinson's left arm was substantially shorter than his right. We also learn that it is "rubber-like" and "useless. This is a complete antithesis to the film, as although the left arm is useless and hasn't changed; there is no sign or it being "6 inches shorter. " In both the book and the film Robinson comes across as a caring gentle man.
"I seen that nigger yonder ruttin' on my Mayella. " This is an extremely evocative phrase in the book, and is the most famous from the trial scene. It has a real feel of arrogance and violence. However there are only one or two mentions of the word 'nigger' in the whole of the film. For it was 1962, and language like that would be totally unacceptable.However, when Bob Ewell says that, it hits the reader like a bullet.
It shows the whole meaning of the trial and adds a huge amount of power to the scene. At the time that the film was made, people were not used to those sorts of words in a film. So therefore it would end up being a lot more emotional when the film was made, even though it still is a really good piece of emotive language. So emotive in fact, that Judge Taylor "hammered fully five minutes," despite "having never used his gavel much.
" The use of camera angles in the film adds a real empathy to the story and the trial.There are only three main shots used. The close up; where it is usually Atticus or a witness is a great technique. You can clearly see the expression on someone's face.
Then, there is the medium shot, which is used a lot. For instance, when Atticus and Mr. Ewell brush past each other. It creates great tension. Finally, there is the wide shot of the whole court.
It clearly shows the segregation to great effect and the jury, indicating to the reader what the court is like. Bob Ewell is a "bantam cock. " He thinks that he is a world-class comedian, and this is easily shown when he is called up to the stand.He is asked whether he is the father of Mayella Ewell.
A simple Question; but he arrogantly replies, "Well, if I aint I cant do nothing about it now, her ma's dead. " This is not needed and adds to the feeling of Mr Ewell being a common folk idiot. I also think that it shows again that he is a violent man. By the end of the trial it is clear that he hit his daughter, and by using an answer like that it could show the reader that he would hurt Mayella's mother. The jury are basically "dressed up Cunninghams," we are told. This shows how poor they must be, and in the film; they don't even looked dressed up.
Mayella Ewell is described by Harper Lee as being "fragile-looking," and "appeared to look as though she kept herself clean. " Once again we can visually see a contrast. In the film's adaptation of the novel, Mayella Violet Ewell appears to be dirty, sweating profusely and extremely rough. She does not look fragile at all, and instead appears to be spoiling for a fight. Atticus (in the film), after having figured her out, asks her, "would you like to tell us what really happened? " Again, the book is different, but only slightly.
The word 'really' doesn't appear in the sentence.A small change, but it loses an enormous sense of significance and meaning. Another point about the film, is that there is so much more emotion at this point. Mayella shouts, " I got somethin' to say...
... you're all yellow stinkin' cowards.
" She then storms off crying - in the book. In the film she merely sobs. The reader is overcome with immense feeling. The words are the same, but again the camera shot/angle and visual emotion changes the whole feeling, as well as the fact that the setting and actions are so much more poignant when she runs back to her chair, her eyes full of salty tears.The film, basically a reworked copy of the book, I think, has an enormously powerful sense of feeling and understanding. Even in 1962, the camera shots and angles are planned to perfection and it really helps.
You can see and hear the character's expressions, and visually use your imagination to enter the courtroom. However, the book has its advantages. The language and terminology used is incredibly vital to the trial scene and provokes the reader into a sense of insecurity while reading the incredible piece of writing.