This one’s a Must-See!

A touching masterpiece;  simply terrfic

Ask me this: “Victor, if you were to get stuck on a desert island and were permitted to have only one single film with you to watch, which film would you pick?” I am likely to answer The Green Mile.

Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb.

This is a magnificent movie that seems to provide me with everything I love – I love how the music sounds, I love how its filmed, I love the brilliant acting, I love the visuals, I love the story, I love the characters, I just love looking at pretty much every frame of this very long but very wonderful film. It is one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen in my life.

Based on a Stephen King-novel of the same name, The Green Mile starts by introducing us to the elderly Paul Edgecomb (Dabbs Greer); it is 1999 and he resides in a nursing home. The staff keeps asking why he insists on always taking his breakfast with him on his long walks on the nearby hills and what he does up there. He says that he just likes to walk. One day he starts crying as he and the other elderly watch the film Top Hat together; he walks away with his friend Elaine (Eve Brent), who is interested in finding out why the film made Paul so sad. Apparently it reminded him of something that happened to him in 1935, when he was in charge of death row inmates on the “Green Mile”, a cell block at Cold Mountain Penitentiary. Paul proceeds to tell Elaine the story.

It is summer and the year is 1935; Paul (Tom Hanks) awaits the arrival of a new prisoner, who turns out to be a man of intimidating size, but seemingly low intelligence (he knows very little, he says), little courage (he fears the dark) and a shy personality. His name is John Coffey and he is played magnificently by Michael Clarke Duncan. Warden Hal Moores (James Cromwell) tells Paul that the reason this gentle giant was convicted was that he apparently murdered and raped two little girls. Paul finds it hard to believe that such a gentle and seemingly harmless man would commit such a crime.

Meanwhile, the childish, sadistic, spoiled guard Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison) starts working at the Green Mile. He enjoys bullying and hurting the prisoners and being rude to all his colleagues, threatening to call the “big people” he claims to know if they should mistreat him. He is a despicable character, yes, but if we hate him then that just shows how great the writing of the character is – he is intended to be absolutely unlikable. One of the cruel things he does is squishing the pet mouse of prisoner Eduard “Del” Delacroix (Michael Jeter), Mr. Jingles. It is at this point that John Coffey shows us what an extraordinary man he truly is. Earlier he had magically cured Paul of his urinary tract infection and now he actually manages to bring Mr. Jingles back to life!

Michael Clarke Duncan doing a sensational job in the role of John Coffey.

Obviously, the guards are astonished and start wondering if John Coffey is some kind of angel. What is he? Is he some kind of miracle? Should he still be executed for his crime? Is he Jesus Christ reborn? From his initials, I’d say yes.

Another character worth mentioning is the prisoner William “Wild Bill” Wharton (Sam Rockwell); he is violent and retchingly evil but at the same time very funny. Some scenes involve him pulling pranks on the guards and at one point he even makes Percy soil himself. When it happens to a character like Percy, I cannot help but smile. The film also features David Morse as Brutus “Brutal” Howell, Bonnie Hunt as Paul’s wife Jan, Barry Pepper as Dean Stanton, Jeffrey DeMunn as Harry Terwilliger, Graham Greene as Arlen Bitterbuck, Gary Sinise as Burt Hammersmith, Patricia Clarkson as Hal’s ill wife and lastly, speaking of names like Harry and Dean Stanton, we’ve got Harry Dean Stanton as Toot-Toot.

Del with Mr. Jingles.

When I am asked about my all-time favourite films, I always mention The Green Mile, sometimes stating that it’s even my all-time favourite which I am not entirely sure it is. Though it is undeniably up there with favourites like The Fifth Element, Schindler’s List, The City of Lost Children, Toy Story and The Dark Crystal.

The film has a very long run-time but interesting things happening each of those 180+ minutes; the film feels long, yes, but it never feels boring. It creates the feeling that many prison-days pass with many different things occuring during that time, and I can safely say that the film becomes more interesting and feels eventful because of it. We’re following the story of John Coffey and the tale of Coffey is a long one.

The great characters certainly help keeping the viewers interested. One simply cannot help but feel sorry for characters like Del or John Coffey, cheer on characters like Paul and Brutal, feel hatred towards nasty characters like Percy or laugh at characters like Toot-Toot and Wild Bill. Of course, the terrific actors play a significant part in creating all these wonderful characters; each actor portrays their character beautifully, making me sometimes think that I’m really watching the characters and not merely a bunch of actors. Michael Clarke Duncan, for instance, is outstanding in this film and it is a genuine shame that he has been typecast lately as big, mean thungs and the like, when it is the kind, sweet, innocent performance he gives in The Green Mile that clearly shows his true talent.

Doug Hutchison as Percy, getting harassed by Wild Bill (Sam Rockwell).

This is indeed a masterful movie. The performances given by all the actors, particularly Hanks and Duncan, are absolutely smashing, the somber, magical music by Thomas Newman is simply lovely, the characters are great, the plot remains captivating throughout, the visuals are gorgeous, the cinematography is immensely beautiful, the writing is brilliant (many of Coffey’s lines, for example, are delightful), the 1930’s-sets are convincing and of course, the many sad parts of the film really work.

Yes, the film may make one smile at times, but it also makes one feel sad a great deal. The Green Mile is an enthralling, touching, beautiful motion picture that offers me much of the things I love to see in a film. I highly doubt I will ever get tired of re-watching this magnificent piece of cinema.

The director, Frank Darabont, also made The Shawshank Redemption, which is known as one of the greatest films of all time. While I agree that Shawshank is very good, I will always consider The Green Mile Darabont’s absolute masterpiece. It’s quite simply fantastic. I love it!

5/5 whatever.