Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, September 22: HARPER LEE: FROM MOCKINGBIRD TO WATCHMAN
Mary McDonagh Murphy’s updated version of her previous Harper Lee film debuted on VOD this past July, timed to coincide with the publication of GO SET A WATCHMAN.
I previously wrote about the previous version of the doc, HEY, BOO: HARPER LEE AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD in 2011 here. McDonagh Murphy essentially keeps the spine of the original film, but incorporates elements related to WATCHMAN, aiming to counter the speculation and criticism engendered by the surprise release of Lee’s second novel more than a half century after MOCKINGBIRD‘s initial release. Among the tidbits noted here are that, contrary to rumor, WATCHMAN was not a first draft that became the beloved classic; instead, Lee and her editor diligently reworked a separate, related collection of short stories called ATTICUS into MOCKINGBIRD, while drawing some elements from the completed WATCHMAN. Significantly, the film also dismisses claims that Lee never wanted WATCHMAN published, or that dementia was a factor in allowing the manuscript to be published. Finally, McDonagh Murphy’s interviews, including with Lee’s aged sister and with the literary patrons who enabled her writing, yield information about other novels the author had planned, as well as the suggestion that there are other, more recently written works waiting to be discovered. While the film is fairly rudimentary on a technical level, it offers welcome insight about Lee and her work.