The Green Mile (1999)

The Green Mile
Directed by Frank Darabont
Written by Frank Darabont and Stephen King
(number 337)

I can’t remember when I first saw this movie, but I loved it straight off. There are two scenes I don’t particularly like to watch, sometimes when I watch it I skip those scenes… but otherwise I enjoy it. There are loveable characters with terrible things happening to them, the film is Darabont green and gold palette, and so beautifully shot.

Tom Hanks harnesses his extreme likeable nature and charisma to portray the head of a prison where condemned men are sent to be killed. He is a man going a terrible job but trying to do it best he can, honestly and kindly while struggling with what it means when the man who actually wants to die doesn’t deserve it.

Stephen King’s story of course, has an element of the supernatural and it’s handled slowly and elegantly. In fact it’s not even hinted at until 40 ish minutes in, when John Coffey does his first miracle. What would it look like if Jesus came back to Earth? The story hints at but never specifically claims this, of course. But coming back as a black man in thirties Southern America isn’t a good way to survive I guess.

I’m not a religious person, but I do love stories that play with religious ideas or put them into other settings. One of the excellent books on my shelf deals with the question ‘what if God was a lazy teenage boy?’

So I find this story fascinating. It’s about the miracles and healings and what if there’s someone with a bigger plan and the way that power uses people for his own means is kind of shit, and what does that mean for the ordinary people who encounter those who are ‘blessed’?

Does it make me love the people? Oh yes. With the exception of the few genuinely evil characters that Stephen King always puts in there. Percy. Percy is the worst kind of bully, one full of self righteous privilege, a mean streak and in a position of power over other people.

Bechdel test: No. Another one of these movies which is just about men and men talking to men. The women are just wives, and even then there’re only two of them. Even the mouse is a Mister.

Best lines:

Arlen Bitterbuck: Do you believe that if a man repents enough for what he done wrong, than he’ll get to go back to the time that was happiest for him and live there forever? Could that be what heaven’s like?

Melinda Moores: I dreamed of you. I dreamed you were wandering in the dark, and so was I. We found each other. We found each other in the dark.

John Coffey: People hurt the ones they love. That’s how it is all around the world.

State of Mind: Ouch. I love this film, but ouch. Heartbreaking