The Green Mile|
By Fred McIntosh
Castle Rock Entertainment presents a Darkwoods Production
||Warner Bros. a Time Warner Entertainment Co.
|Written for the screen by
|Based on a book by
||Stephen King, The Green Mile|
||Tom Hanks, David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Cromwell, and Michael Jeter|
Mile is set in 1935 Louisiana and features Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb,
the ranking prison guard on the death row cell block, nicknamed "the Green Mile" because of the color of the tile that leads from the holding cells to the execution room.
Edgecomb is a moral, kind, compassionate man who does his best to maintain the dignity of the condemned men in his charge. Brutus "Brutal" Howell (David Morse) is a gentle giant, who serves with Edgecomb on the ward. Hal Moores (James Cromwell) is the warden, a decent man whose wife suffers from a terminal illness. Bonnie Hunt plays Jan, Edgecomb's caring and supportive wife. Overzealous young guard, Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison), who has his job only because of his familial connections, quickly establishes himself as one of the chief villains in the film.
The lives of all of these
prison staffers are destined to change radically when John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) is brought to the Mile. Coffey is an enormous black man who has been sentenced to death for the murder of two young white girls.
Two major subplots develop over the course of the film. First, John Coffey has a special power that cannot be explained by logic. To tell what it is would take away from the movie, but certainly it is a deviance from the typical Stephen King stock terror package. The other is that while the cell block is by no means a happy place, the professional, humane and very careful treatment of the prisoners by the staff makes the Mile a more or less decent place for the condemned to live out their final days.
There are wonderful
performances by all of the performers, particularly Tom Hanks, who turns in another Oscar worthy performance in a career full of them. Duncan beautifully conveys John Coffey's total confusion and misery over his lot in life and I hope the Academy recognizes his fine work.
Mile is an excellent movie primarily because director Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) has a remarkable gift for creating intimacy between the viewer and the film setting. Darabont's visual skills, as well as his taut writing, transport the viewer directly into the setting of the film. He also has a Spielberg-esque ability to maximize the emotional impact of every crucial scene.
Although I do not believe The Green Mile is a movie for the ages, I do feel that Frank Darabont is establishing himself as one of the great young directors of his time and I look forward to his next movie. The powerful emotional impact of this film will stay with many viewers for a long time. Be careful though, it is grisly in some parts.