The Green Mile (1999)

Description[from Freebase]

The Green Mile is a 1999 American drama film directed by Frank Darabont and adapted by him from the 1996 Stephen King novel of the same name. The film is told in a flashback format and stars Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb and Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey with supporting roles by David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, and James Cromwell. The film tells the story of Paul's life as a death row corrections officer during the Great Depression in the United States, and the supernatural events he witnessed. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor, Best Picture, Best Sound, and Best Adapted Screenplay. In a Louisiana nursing home in 1999, Paul Edgecomb (Dabbs Greer) begins to cry while watching the film Top Hat. His elderly friend Elaine (Eve Brent) shows concern for him and Paul tells her that the film reminded him of when he was a corrections officer in charge of Death Row inmates at Cold Mountain Penitentiary during the summer of 1935. The cell block Paul (Tom Hanks) works in is called the "Green Mile" by the guards because the condemned prisoners walking to their execution are said to be walking "the last mile" to the electric chair.

Review

The Green Mile

Don’t be alarmed by the fact that The Green Mile is three hours long. You could say that a long movie is required here, since Frank Darabont’s film is pulled from Stephen King’s acclaimed series of six books by the same name. In these books, King returned to the kind of work he was doing in The Shawshank Redemption (based on a short story of his). Both films are less interested in splatter and gore, and more focused on the minds of their strange characters.

The resemblance to Shawshank is uncanny. Both are epic prison films that ultimately tell stories of personal growth and enlightenment. But The Green Mile isn’t about the prisoners, it’s about the guards, and one notable prisoner that crosses their paths. Leading the crew of the 1935 southern prison is guard Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), a kind man who treats his death row inmates with all the dignity he can. His latest charge is John Coffey (Michael Duncan), a gentle giant with alarming powers of the spirit who was convicted of killing two little girls.

Before it’s time for Coffey to walk The Green Mile (the road to ‘Old Sparky,’ the electric chair), he has a profound effect upon the other guards and inmates. And Paul is at the center of this. Mr. Jingles, the prison’s mouse, takes second billing. The light bulbs, which explode more dramatically and more often than in any other film in history, take third.

There’s plenty here to make you laugh and cry, and director Darabont (who also did Shawshank) knows how to tug each string. Hanks’s Southern accent might not be up to the standards he set in Forrest Gump and Saving Private Ryan, but that’s okay. Duncan is the one to watch here. Giving a performance full of nobility and pathos, he is the film’s true emotional core, and, despite that three hour running time, he’ll glue you to your seat.

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