The Green Mile – review
The Green Mile was directed by Frank Darabont and was set in a death row prison block in Louisiana in 1935. The Green Mile is a film which explores the forces of good and evil and the different characters these forces inhabit. The Green Mile is narrated by the retired guard (Dabbs Greer as the elderly Edgecomb), in an extended flashback which takes the viewer to 1935. The story takes places inside a penitentiary and mainly involves the head prison guard, Paul Edgecomb, the irrepressible, sadistic guard Percy Wetmore and John Coffey, the most mysterious of the prisoners on death row.
Although the story of The Green Mile is not realistic, it is however a sentimental film with full of emotions. It’s sentimental because it manipulates us into feeling a great deal and then leaves us in tears, wondering if the tears are worth it. Paul Edgecomb is a decent guy who is married to Jan. His responsibility is to guard his prisoners and escort each of them to the electric chair on the day they are scheduled to be executed. It is clear that he also tries to maintain some level of peace and respect toward the prisoners.
Edgecomb however goes through a bladder problem in this film which establishes the audience’s sympathy for the character’s suffering. Aside from threatening his image of strength and control among the guards and prisoners, his bladder problem is revealed through his wife as this affects his sex life. John Coffey is an immense black man who was falsely convicted of the murder of two little white girls based only on him being found holding the bodies of the two girls. He is a man with the body of a giant and the mind of a child.
He is however a humble and immensely powerful man with a very beautiful heart as he possesses the ability to heal people through the power of touch. As a result he heals Edgecomb’s bladder problem but his power is later reinforced and most clearly depicted when he heals the wife of Edgecomb’s boss who had an inoperable brain tumor. Although it is not realistic he still touches the audience’s heart as he is misunderstood by the people around him and gets executed at the end of the film for refusing to declare his own innocence.
I think this film is sentimental as well as a protest against capital punishment. This is shown clearly through Coffey as he gets executed for being innocent which becomes sentimental as it leaves the audience in tears to see an innocent person getting punished. It is also a protest against capital punishment as the electric chair was used falsely to punish an innocent guy where as the real murderer of the two girls in the film escapes from being executed and so therefore doesn’t go through any pain in his life for murdering two little girls.
But Coffey, although he wasn’t the real murderer had to go through all the pains during execution all for just being innocent. Colours in this film are often subdued but are rendered faithfully, looking natural and well saturated. At the beginning of the film more reds and greens were used which made it look brighter and full of life. But later in the film deep browns and sandy colours were used to represent the earlier period and to make the audience feel sad about that certain scene.
For example in the scene where the girls were found, more brown was used and there was no grass so as to let the audience know about the past. There were also a lot of brown used when people were executed to make the people feel sentimental and sad about the scene. The film’s composer is Thomas Newman. Music is composed for the film to create an effect as well as instruments which are played for certain scenes. For example blues guitar is played in the background as Wild Bill is brought in.
The songs composed in this film are very sentimental which will touch the audiences’ heart and make them emotional. There is a song which includes the line ‘Put your troubles away’ which is played at the time Paul Edgecomb is worried about John Coffey being innocent. This, in turn, arouses the emotions of the audience watching the film. There is also a song which includes the line ‘did you ever have a dream’ which is played during the visit to warden’s wife which tells the audience that the scene is sentimental and full of emotions.
Every string, every note played, conveys some emotion or feeling expressed by the character of John Coffey. The music however for the final ten minutes is manipulative which will have the audiences in tears. There are also natural sounds in the film such as footsteps, other people talking, birds singing etc. The significant objects used in this film include a radio and an electric chair. The radio is significant to Paul Edgecomb as he listens to sentimental songs which represent his emotions. This tells the audience about his sentimentality and his feelings.
The film tells the audience about the cruelty of capital punishment. In one case, the prisoner is unnecessarily made a sadist’s play thing, and in Coffey’s case, his death is the tragic result of injustice. More notably, the evil Wild Bill escapes the electric chair even though he was the culprit for the murders for which Coffey was arrested. All in all, these incidents seem to make people obnoxious when thought about capital punishment. Therefore this film is definitely sentimental as well as a protest against capital punishment.