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The film was filmed in black and white in order to give the characters the definition and not the scenery. While it is critical to the film to see the small southern town, Lee did not want the film to reduce the significance of the characters. She wanted Atticus to be viewed with the respect he need.
The other reason was the film like the town was divided in the two colors which set the tone for the story in general. It was a good choice because the film style made the film all the better and more captivating.
I believe there may have been several reasons for To Kill a Mockingbird being shot in black and white rather than color. With the setting of the 1930s, an old fashioned B&W look may have been a consideration. The racial storyline and the division of blacks and whites in the South could also have been a reason. A more likely purpose was that black and white filming was much cheaper than shooting in color. Another possibility is that the TV was still primarily viewed in B&W, and this may have been a consideration for future television rights. At least the recent DVD release featured a full color photo from the film as the cover.
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