The title sequence of the film “To Kill a Mockingbird” represents the ideas and themes of the novel in several ways. For instance in the first shot, we could see the title “To Kill a Mockingbird” scribbled on a paper and rubbed off by a little girl, this is symbolic as it shows us it is important. Just like the novel, it is rubbed off to hint us the story will be from a child’s point of view. In another shot, a watch used for timing was seen. This denotes the ticking of time in the novel, it relates to the novel as it shows time passing and the journey of the narrator through childhood.
Above all, the watch is a symbolism for responsibility which will be passed on to Jem from Atticus to take care of his younger sister, Scout. A box of toys associated with childhood was also seen in shot 7, later in shot 10 we see a necklace, mouth organ, whistle and marble which signify maturity. This shot is like a whole box of child’s toy being throw out of focus and transformed into more experienced things such as the mouthorgan, the necklace and the watch which implies responsibility and maturity.
This relates back to the novel when Scout stopped playing childhood games such “Boo Radley” and took up the challenge of defending her father in the Mob scene; this shows her growing up and taking responsibility for some actions. Moreover, a marble was seen in shot 6, the marble in the film represents the children in the novel, it rolls and clashes which suggests destruction. This refers back to the novel as we see the children’s nai?? ve innocence clashing with the injustice of the society that is full of racism, sexism and prejudice. In the film version, the child draws a bird and rips it apart.
The bird represents the Mockingbird in the novel which is described as a peaceful bird which does nothing but “sing their heart out to mankind,” but treated unjustly. As the child rips it off she makes a sound like “oops,” this makes us feel the little girl is doing something unknowingly, it also connotes the destruction of innocence and the death of the Mockingbird in the novel version. Another technique used to reflect the theme of growing up is the lighting. The opening scene in the film was stereotyped as “black and white”; this is successful as it mirrors it as being dull, solemn as well as retrospective.
This can be referred back to the novel as it is about the narrator Scout looking back at the positive and negative events which affected her childhood. In the film, most of the shots are in extreme close ups. This connotes intimacy, adds a personal touch to the novel and shows it is directly connected to the narrator. Other shots are panned out to the next one. This denotes the development from one stage to the other and makes the audience feel the children are growing up; this is relevant to the novel as it shows the journey of the narrator from childhood to adulthood.
The editing of these shots also plays an important role in representing the themes in the novel. For instance, some shots dissolve which shows time winding past but in the novel version, it connotes the transformation from immaturity to maturity. The sound effect in the film sequence also conveys the ideas and themes in the novel. We could hear the humming of the child, this suggests the voice of the narrator and reinforces the story is from a child’s point of view. At a stage in the title sequence, an orchestra sets in; it ends at a calm high musical note, while a single music note combined with the humming followed.
This music relates to the novel as the first orchestra shows how the children start realizing how unfair Maycomb was. The calm high note shows the climax of destruction after Tom Robinson’s conviction while the single music note shows how the children tried to return to their normal life after the death of Tom. The single note also reviews how the children try to understand why Boo Radley (one of the Mockingbirds) stays indoors to keep away from the prejudice in Maycomb.
Finally, in the film sequence, we hear a pencil landing heavily while the girl rips up the paper and her voice matches up with it, this connotes the death of the Mockingbird. This relates to the novel as Scout grows up realizing there was injustice in the society and stands on the porch with Boo Radley understanding how it feels standing in his shoes. In conclusion, the title sequence in the opening scene explores the ideas and themes in the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” carefully using different media techniques such as the sound effects, the lighting and the camera shots.