I also think To Kill a Mockingbird is a great novel to read, accompanied then by the classic film with Gregory Peck. I also liked to read the play, The Miracle Worker and then watch the film. This I tried to do at the end of the year so that the kids could read in class. We had a chance to talk about stage direction, especially the staging of the battle between Helen and Annie Sullivan in the diningroom.
This may also come from left field, but I enjoyed watching M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable with my students. There is some violence that would make me consider if my class was mature enough to handle (though it's probably pretty tame by today's standards). There is no novel with this, but it could be paired with any reading that deals with good vs evil. Or heroes and villains: Beowulf? (Though The Thirteenth Warrior is best for Beowulf...)
There were several things I enjoyed discussing with the kids. First was the idea of lanuage changing over the years, starting with pictures. I felt it was also a great opportunity to discuss what a hero is: Bruce Willis' character does not see himself as a hero—heroism has many faces.
It's hard for many people to believe that there are extraordinary things inside themselves, as well as others.
The theme of appearance vs. reality is important. Willis (David) doesn't "look" the hero, but Samuel L. Jackson's character (Elijah) seems eccentric, but not monstrous. We also spoke of the type of villains that Jackson's character describes: the soldier villain and the evil archenemy:
But he says there's always two kinds; there's the soldier villain - who fights the hero with his hands; and then there's the real threat - the brilliant and evil archenemy - who fights the hero with his mind.
And with the archenemy, he doesn't always appear evil.
The movie also has that Shyamalan signature "pull the rug out from under you at the last minute" moment, the twist you love because it's so hard for film makers to pull it off.
Finally, the story starts out talking about comic books. And if you're a fan of the old comics where there are heroes and villains, you will appreciate the cinematography, which frames certain shots as if they are straight out of a comic book. There is also the symbolism used throughout the story. (The "cape" that is the trademark of a super-hero; the fact that David's cape/rain slicker says "Security" on the back, etc....)
Three days to watch: at least two to discuss, maybe three. Only drawback, kids who are absent. It's hard for them to care about the discussion if they've missed a day.