UK Release date: 3rd March 2000
Watched on DVD Sunday 21st October 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
Partly because I love this film and partly as a bit of a tribute to the actor Michael Clarke Duncan who sadly passed away last month, I opted for ‘The Green Mile’ for my Sunday viewing this week. I did have another film in mind but couldn’t find the disc, which was a tad frustrating, but it led me to this film instead and I must say I’m really glad it did! As a fan of the novels of Stephen King I do try to see any movie adaptations of his work; usually with varying results. Fortunately this one was directed by Frank Darabont so I knew we were in safe hands. I have to say, for the record, I have seen it before but that was some years ago now. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
We begin in a retirement home where an old man, Paul Edgecomb, begins to relate a story about the year 1935 when he was prison guard at the Cold Mountain Correctional Facility. They call Death Row “The Green Mile” because of the dark green linoleum that tiles the floor, and that’s where Edgecomb had charge. His fellow guards included; Brutus ‘Brutal’ Howell, Dean Stanton, Harry Terwilliger and Percy Wetmore who used his family connections to keep the job despite his total lack of compassion for it. This was the year that one John Coffey was to come to the Mile and he was going to affect everyone’s life there. There was something very special about John, something that would be hard to explain and so I won’t try; I’ll leave you to watch the film and make up your own mind about it.
Very well made with a beautifully understated musical score by Thomas Newman, it underpins the action perfectly and works very well. All the performances were great; particularly Michael Clarke Duncan who fully deserved his 2000 Oscar nomination for his portrayal of John Coffey. As usual, Tom Hanks puts in a flawless performance as Paul Edgecomb (the younger version of course). Also worthy of note were; David Morse as Brutus ‘Brutal’ Howell, Bonnie Hunt as Edgecomb’s wife, Jan, James Cromwell as Warden Hal Moores, Michael Jeter as Eduard Delacroix, Graham Greene as Arlen Bitterbuck, Doug Hutchison as Percey Wetmore, Sam Rockwell as ‘Wild Bill’ Wharton, Barry Pepper as Dean Stanton and Jeffrey DeMunn as Harry Terwilliger. Oh and not forgetting the mouse (or mice) who appeared as ‘Mr Jingles’.
The film has quite a slow pace that allows the audience to become familiar with the characters and the comings and goings on ‘The Mile’. With most of the action taking place in the one location I thought the director did a good job of using different angles and even the odd special effect to keep it visually interesting. Because you become so invested in the characters, it is three hours long after all, it does tend to get a bit emotional towards the end. This is probably one of the reasons I love this film so much. Stephen King does write such well rounded and interesting characters and Frank Darabont has the knack of being able to translate them to the screen. In my book this is one of the very best adaptations of King’s work and one that will stay with me for a very long time.
SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
My score: 9.1/10
IMDb Score: 8.5/10 (based on 349,346 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 61/100: (Based on 36 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 80/100 (based on 132 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 93/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 719,255 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Old Paul Edgecomb: They usually call death row the Last Mile, but we called ours the Green Mile, because the floor was the colour of faded limes. We had the electric chair then. Old Sparky, we called it. I've lived a lot of years, Ellie, but 1935 takes the prize. That was the year I had the worst urinary infection of my life. That was also the year of John Coffey and the two dead girls.
Paul Edgecomb: Your name is John Coffey?
John Coffey: Yes sir boss. Like the drink, only not spelled the same.
Paul Edgecomb: What did you just do to me?
John Coffey: I helped it. Didn't I help it? I just took it back, is all. Awful tired now, boss. Dog tired.
John Coffey: I'm smellin' me some cornbread.
Paul Edgecomb: It's from my mises. She wanted to thank you.
John Coffey: Thank me for what?
Paul Edgecomb: Well, you know...
Paul Edgecomb: For a helping me.
John Coffey: Helping you with what?
Paul Edgecomb: You know.
[Paul points to his groin]
John Coffey: [John smiles] Ohh. Was your misses pleased?
Paul Edgecomb: [Paul nods] Several times.
Paul Edgecomb: John, do you know where we're taking you?
John Coffey: Help a lady?
Brutus "Brutal" Howell: That's right. But how do you know?
John Coffey: Don't know. To tell the truth, Boss, I don't know much'o anything.
Paul Edgecomb: On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God, and He asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what am I gonna say? That it was my job? My job?
John Coffey: You tell God the Father it was a kindness you done. I know you hurtin' and worryin', I can feel it on you, but you oughta quit on it now. Because I want it over and done. I do. I'm tired, boss. Tired of bein' on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we's coming from or going to, or why. Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?
Paul Edgecomb: Yes, John. I think I can.