Written and Directed By: Frank Darabont
Starring: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse, Doug Hutchison, Barry
Pepper, Bonnie Hunt, James Cromwell, and Jeffrey DeMunn
The next time you're at your local video store, you'll probably notice that this one
comes in two VHS tapes. The
reason for that is that this epic runs over three hours in length. What stands out on
the cover of this home video release (besides Tom Hanks) is the caption that
reads, "Over 50 Top Critics Agree: One of The Year's Ten Best Films." Well, we
know how the critics felt about this one when it was released in theaters and
you might remember that the Academy selected it as one of the five best films of
the year, but how will you feel about it? I think that you'll feel that
The Green Mile is a well-developed, well-acted, moving picture, the story of a
man falsely accused of a heinous crime awaiting execution and the prison guards
who come to befriend him.
Director Darabont has produced yet another terrific film
adaptation. Special effects and the supernatural play key components in this
effort, but they do not overshadow the characters and the story itself. Solid acting
across the board, particularly
from Tom Hanks and Oscar nominee Michael Clarke Duncan, gives this story the believability and heart it needed.
The story unfolds through a series of flashbacks of the events that took place
on the Green Mile (the nickname given to the Louisiana State Penitentiary's
death row because of its green floor) in 1935. Narration comes from
head guard Paul Edgecomb (Hanks), who remembers the extraordinary event that took
place one year and involved him and his fellow guards: Dean (Barry Pepper),
Harry (Jeffrey DeMunn), and his best friend Brutus (David Morse). Oh, I almost
forgot little Percy (standout Doug Hutchison). He's not the extraordinary event,
but the thorn in the side of everyone on the mile. Since his aunt is married
to the governor, Percy believes himself to be an untouchable, but he's a slimy creature who likes to push death
row inmates around and can't wait to see them die.
The event takes place in the form of John Coffey (Duncan). Here's this gentle
giant of a man who's afraid to go to sleep without the light on who's been
accused of molesting and brutally killing two little girls. How can this be? How
can such a loving and Christ-like man do such a thing? Well, over the course of the
next three hours, you discover the truth of what really happened. You'll
also discover during this time what a sadistic monster Percy turns out to
be. Luckily, for everyone involved, what goes around comes around.
The Green Mile is surely bound to hook you in from the get-go and tap on your
emotions. Although not a horror film (what you usually expect from a King
adaptation), there are some horrific and thought-provoking moments
that revolve around the electric chair and its use - which
turns a PG movie into an R. What's even more powerful than some of these
graphic scenes is the bond between Paul and John, Paul's unrelenting belief that
this man could not have committed what he's been accused of, and the purity and
goodness of this gentle giant.
The casting was ideal as every actor made his or her character feel real to us.
Headliner Hanks has an uncanny knack (like few other actors) to consistently
pick successful scripts, and he
continuously plays likeable and morally sturdy characters. While Hanks was
his usual standout self, Duncan was actually a step above Hanks with a sweet
and touching performance that will surely leave you hunting for tissues by film's
end. He clearly demonstrated that he can hold his own against the best in the
business and shouldn't be restricted solely to commercial blockbusters such as
Armageddon. A well-deserved supporting Oscar nomination, which should continue
to open many doors for the big guy in the future.
You may have trouble with either the ending, the length, the spiritual message,
the electric chair, or all of the above, but you'll have a hard time not having
a strong emotional reaction to it. This heartfelt,
emotional drama purposely takes its time, gives you the answers you were
craving, and makes you think well after it's ended. The
Green Mile is a classic tearjerker of the highest order. It's a film that has
its heart in the right place and one that shouldn't be overlooked.