TV Review: American Masters Harper Lee (2015)

Posted: July 25, 2015 in Documentary

Harper Lee

A documentary of the author Harper Lee and her seminal work “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

There is a plethora of interesting information in this show.  The book may have never been written except for the intervention of two friends of Lee’s.  The character of Dill was based on a real life neighbor of Lee’s, I could not believe who her neighbor was, and it was quite interesting.  There were clips from the movie adaptation, of course, one of the few movies that was every bit as good as the book. The performance from Gregory Peck was so understated and wonderful that I can’t even comprehend anyone else playing the role of Atticus.  There’s an interview with Lee’s sister, who was a layer at age 99, and still sharp as a tack, and pretty feisty.  An interviewer asks Lee about the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights movement, the answer may surprise you.  I could have done without the celebrity tributes, like Oprah, but the authors they talked to added a lot of insight.

This is not a political documentary, although it briefly touches on the Civil Rights movement, it has no point of view, nor does it have an axe to grind, except when talking of Lee’s neighbor, who comes under some withering criticism.  If there is a flaw in this documentary, it is that it fawns too much over Lee.  They should have spent some portion of this film delving into some of the controversies surrounding Go Set A Watchman.  They speculate instead on why Lee didn’t give interviews promoting Mockingbird.

If you want an insight on what inspired one of the most important books of American literature, watch this documentary, it is well worth your time.  I’ve been obsessing a bit on Harper Lee and this episode of American Masters feeds my obsession.

American Masters:  Harper Lee: Go Sit and Watch, Man.


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