To Kill A Mockingbird sold 500,000 copies in its first year of release in 1960. Two years later in 1962, Hollywood film star Gregory Peck was starring in the role of Atticus Finch in the film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

Earning more than ten times its budget, the film won three Academy Awards – one of which was Best Actor, awarded to Peck for his faultless portrayal of his much-loved character Atticus. The film adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird won the hearts of many back in ’62 and still continues to do so in 2015.

2016’s film adaptations of books often destroy the core messages and themes, change the plot so that it becomes unidentifiable and crush the ideas in your head of how you imagined your favourite character. However, To Kill A Mockingbird is different. It is just as moving as the novel and while it does change some of the plot and cut out a large chunk of one of the novel’s minor yet most influential characters, Mrs Dubose, it can be almost forgiven as it is impossible to capture all of the essence of Harper Lee’s great classic in just 129 minutes.

Perhaps one of the most touching things about the film is that you are well aware that Robert Mulligan, the director, and Horton Foote, who wrote the adaptation, worked in harmony while attempting to portray Atticus, Scout (Mary Badham), Boo Radley (Robert Duvall) and the Ewells just as they were in the novel by Lee. Atticus is that hero figure; Scout is the cheeky yet intelligent little girl; Boo is not who you think he is and the Ewells are just as frustrating and complex as you remember. It is the example of perfect casting and perfect acting – both synonymous with the other.

Let me draw your attention to the three characters who steal the film (for me) each time I watch it: Atticus, Tom Robinson and Boo. Somehow, Gregory Peck is Atticus. He’s not just playing him – he is physically the character brought to life. It is no surprise that he is now forever remembered for his part in Mockingbird as he brought Atticus Finch into our homes and put the face and mannerisms (playing with the pocket watch in the courtroom) onto a character so universally loved. As for Brock Peters who plays Tom Robinson, he brought the innocence and pain of Tom to the big screen. He put racism and injustice in front of a camera and made us weep through his mastery of acting. Following on the theme of innocence comes Boo Radley too – Robert Duvall is exactly how you’d imagine Boo. It is when Boo is walked home by Scout that you are moved to tears again as just watching Duvall and Badham walk together is enough to set you off.

To Kill A Mockingbird‘s film adaptation is one of the best films ever made. It is so bittersweet, heartfelt and packed full of emotional tension, but it is a film that pays a fantastic tribute to phenomenal characters and a very special author in the process.