The 1999 film, starring Tom Hanks is based on the serial novels written by Stephen King. It is as superb as Shawshank Redemption (review coming). In fact, in its own way, it is more special because it has about it something of the divine.
When I see or read something great I find I can boil the plot down to analyze the basic ingredients. I can with The Green Mile. The story is basically about guards performing their difficult duties on death row in a southern prison. It can’t be easy. We see that it can’t. It seems at times they are also sentenced to serve their time in this terrible place. Whatever we may feel about capital punishment, the men (except for one) are sympathetic and try to be as helpful as they can be. After all, these are condemned men they are overseeing, men preparing to go to their deaths. They are paying for what they did, most of them. In John Coffey’s case, it is more complicated and that’s at the core of the story.
John Coffey (like the drink, but not spelled the same) – one of my favorite lines, seems to have been put amongst them to bring divine grace and a special insight to the Green Mile. The light he brings lights up the darkness and it stays there. I am certain it remains always as an afterglow.
Coffey has been tried and convicted of a double child murder. When Hanks and his men get a look at this giant, they don’t know what to make of him. But then they do and when they do, they each become affected by this unusual man as he touches all of their lives.
So why do they work there when it’s so difficult? Well, it’s during the Great Depression, a time when a secure job was prized—so they too serve and suffer. It is their fate.
Of course there is amongst them Percy, one nasty piece of work with an important relative—he taunts them with. Percy, we hope will get his come-uppins. He is stupid, mean and sadistic and this prison’s death row should be the last place for him to work in. I wanted to pull his head off, just sayin.’
An elderly man, Hanks grown old played by another actor, spins the tale and it's haunting and gripping at the same time. There are secrets to be told and one hell of a story. It is unforgettable and as for the mystery surrounding one little mouse--well that is just some of the beautiful magic.
I’d say there is a great lesson for all of us here. A man, many would consider to be an angel, visits this hellish place for a purpose. Perhaps it is to bring hope to the hopeless, whatever it is--i have always considered John Coffey to be that angel.
May I just add my own personal tribute to Michael Clarke Duncan who plays John Coffey and say that he will be sorely missed because he was John Coffey, there is no way he wasn't!
Director: Frank Darabont
Writers: Stephen King (novel), Frank Darabont (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse