He killed them with they love. That’s how it is everyday all over the world.
– Death row inmate, the giant John Coffey in The Green Mile
I haven’t derived this much pleasure from a Hollywood film in a long time.
The Green Mile (1999) is the kind of “wow,” story-driven Hollywood movie that has completely disappeared from screens in the current feverish rush to make unwatchable super-hero, alien invasion or comedy drivel.
Based on Stephen King’s eponymous novel, The Green Mile was written for the screen and directed by Frank Darabont (who you may recall also directed the much acclaimed Shawshank Redemption).
Like Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile is a prison story but a completely different beast.
Shawshank Redemption is a heady account of perseverance and triumph against seemingly impossible odds in a harsh prison environment.
Au contraire, the Green Mile turns its lens on death row in a Louisiana prison, particularly on one inmate John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) who’s been sentenced to death for rape and murder of two young girls.
Set in the depression era, the movie’s focus is not just on the death row inmates, interesting as the motley bunch are, but also on the guards monitoring them and their interaction with the prisoners.
Besides John Coffey, the other principal characters are prison guards Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), Brutus “Brutal” Howell (David Morse), Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison), two other death-row inmates and the amusing “Mr.Jingles.”
The story is narrated in flashback at a retirement home several decades after the events with former prison guard Paul disclosing a fascinating but troubling period in his life to fellow resident Elaine.
Within the death row context, the movie centers around a gripping amalgam – John Coffey’s miraculous healing powers, the maniacal sadism of prison guard Percy Wetmore, the calm, professional demeanor of Paul Edgecomb, and, of course, the gruesome execution of the condemned on the electric chair by application of high-voltage electricity.
The strange combination of perverse sadism, John Coffey’s deep compassion and miraculous healings, repentance, innocence and tragic execution of Coffey makes for a fascinating, highly engrossing movie.
Also a deeply disturbing movie.
When Eduard “Del” Delacroix’ execution goes horribly awry, the images on the screen make for some of the most compelling, disturbing moments in modern cinema and takes perversity to heights unimaginable to most people.
No gee whiz effects in The Green Mile.
‘Tis the story and acting that are centerstage.
The late Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey, Tom Hanks as Paul, Doug Hutchison as the sadistic guard Percy and the rest of the cast are beyond reproach.
Compared to most Hollywood movies that clock in around two-hours, Green Mile runs a bit over three hours.
Although long, Green Mile is never boring. No Sir, not for one moment.
Green Mile has won several accolades including four Academy Award nominations (Best Supporting Actor for Michael Clarke Duncan, Best Picture, Best Sound, and Best Adapted Screenplay).
Green Mile easily makes it to my list of Top-100 movies!
SearchIndia.com heartily recommends The Green Mile (available on Netflix DVD).