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GREEN MILE, THE

SYNOPSIS:
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.

"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."
Andrew L. Urban

"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."
Louise Keller

"Prison stories offer plenty of potential for drama. But few would go into a movie about death row expecting to see the warmth and humour which exists in The Green Mile. Director Frank Darabont, who wrote the screenplay from a Stephen King story, manages to take the story beyond the prison walls, while still anchoring the plot firmly in the lonely stretch of corridor where men wait to die. There is brutality and shocking violence, but it is offset by explorations of humanity which encompass many emotions. There is the gentleness and compassion of the last days, and the brutal efficiency of the last moments. Hanks is, again, the best of men in difficult circumstances. He conveys the anguish and amazement of the situation with a smooth and understated performance. Supporting him is a virtually unknown cast, with the standout being Michael Duncan as Coffey. Men of his size probably hate the idea of a future in action movies. With this performance, Coffey has nothing to worry about. Up to a point, it seems as though The Green Mile could become a somewhat predictable stance against capital punishment. But, with surprising turns, it soon becomes something different altogether - a story of miracles and a warning about how evil in the world can make life not worth living."
Anthony Mason

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

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Andrew L. Urban talks to MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN

GREEN MILE, THE (MA)
(US)

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

PRODUCERS: Frank Darabont, David Valdes

DIRECTOR: Frank Darabont

SCRIPT: Frank Darabont (Screenplay) Stephen King (novel)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Tattersall

EDITOR: Richard Francis-Bruce

MUSIC: Thomas Newman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Terence Marsh

RUNNING TIME: 189mins

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: United International Pictures

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 10, 2000







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