Urban Cinefile
"I'm over-critical and not easily satisfied. But I apologise a lot. I have to, because I make psychological mistakes on the set in being pissed off about things that are basically nonsense - "  -Paul Verhoeven
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Saturday July 21, 2018 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) is the prison guard in charge of Block E, the death row, in a southern American jail in 1935. His small team, led by Brutus "Brutal" Howell (David Morse), lead the convicted men through the last weeks of their lives, including the final moments when they walk The Green Mile, the corridor with the lime green floor which leads to the electric chair. But nobody knows how to deal with the newest inmate, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), a giant of a man who has been found guilty of an enormous crime -the rape and murder of two little girls. Yet he is calm and meek to the core, an insightful and childlike hulk of muscle. The more he gets to know Coffey, the more Edgecomb starts to question his guilt. And when Coffey's real power comes to the fore, the lives of those in and around death row, from Warden Hal Moores (James Cromwell) to the psychotic prisoner William "Wild Bill" Wharton (Sam Rockwell), will be changed in ways they never imagined.

Review by Louise Keller:
Music is the emotional trigger for recollections of The Green Mile - that tightrope in time without safety net for prisoners awaiting execution. Pretty grim, you might think. Nothing will prepare you for the surprises in store - from the brutally cruel to the warmly funny.

Extraordinarily powerful and overwhelmingly moving, The Green Mile tells the black and white story of humanity. But there's beauty in the black and there's ugliness in the white - nothing is straightforward. We are told that 'what happens on the mile stays on the mile'. It is these secrets and confidences that bond the men together - those who work there and those who are awaiting their date with fate. In this violent environment, it is especially touching to meet gentle compassion. The kind of respect for a fellow human being that will allow a man his dreams. And in many ways, The Green Mile is a story about dreams - a drama filled with anticipation, pathos and respect.

Frank Darabont's sensitively written and directed film is a showcase for Tom Hanks, whose performance is nothing less than potent, subtle and heartfelt. His strength is tangible - we believe in him, we feel for him, we care for him. Each of the characters is wonderfully described; Michael Clarke Duncan, in his first starring role, is a knockout as John Coffey (like the drink but not spelt the same), the seven foot gentle giant whose magic lies hidden behind a simple mind. The relationship between these two men is at the film's core: they both offer hope, but in totally different ways.

Sharing the passion of The Shawshank Redemption, one of the best prison films of all time, The Green Mile is a moving cinematic experience with haunting music, glowing production design and a richness of spirit that humbles.

Released for the first time on Blu-ray, special features include commentary by Writer/Director Frank Darabont; Two Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary; Tom Hanks Makeup Tests; Michael Clarke Duncan Screen Test; trailers; The Making of documentary and gallery.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Of course it's long - so if you don't like long movies, don't go. But its length is not what we are assessing: is it worth your time? For me it certainly is, even though it's not hard to take issue with certain aspects, from the sometimes simplified characters to the seen-that-prison-routine-before scenes.

The Green Mile rises above its cliché-driven origins by some fine script writing, directing (Darabont cut his mystic-prison-movie teeth on The Shawshank Redemption) and the sheer force of the performances. Tom Hanks is superb, combining Edgecomb's nobility of spirit with a down to earth humanity, always juggling his job and his conscience like a performer juggling two very different objects. He lets us see and feel inside his character and maintains this connection as he lives through the events of the story. There are equally impressive performances from David Morse and Doug Hutchison as wardens with opposing personalities, and a passionate principal support performance from Michael Clarke Duncan as the convicted rapist & murderer with a special gift. This gift is the central motor of the story, and one which helps deliver its 'moral closure' - so that we go home, re-confirmed in the power of good over evil - if only just.

Magnificently scored by Thomas Newman, rivetingly edited by Richard Francis-Bruce and stunningly designed by Terence Marsh, The Green Mile is fuelled by its power-pack cinematography. The Stephen King material gains in gravitas as a result - and should keep you still in your seat for its running time.

Published November 26, 2009

Email this article

Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(US, 1999)

CAST: Tom Hanks, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Cromwell, Doug Hutchison, Graham Greene, Sam Rockwell, Harry Dean Stanton, Gary Sinise

PRODUCER: Frank Darabont, David Valdes

DIRECTOR: Frank Darabont

SCRIPT: Frank Darabont, Stephen King (novel)


EDITOR: Richard Francis-Bruce

MUSIC: Thomas Newman


RUNNING TIME: 189 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 10, 2000


SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by Writer/Director Frank Darabont; Two Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary; Tom Hanks Makeup Tests; Michael Clarke Duncan Screen Test; trailers; The Making of documentary; gallery

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: December 2, 2009

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2018