17 ianuarie 2010

The Green Mile

In the year of 1999, The Green Mile was released under the signature of the same director and screenwriter who directed The Shawshank Redemption, namely Frank Darabount. The movie is an adaptation after Stephen King's novel with the same name, with a typically King story and a very consistently high-powered supporting cast. It is a 188 minutes drama, with some strong violent scenes and nonetheless it delivers a Biblical allegory, with stupendous performances from some of America's most beloved. It is not difficult to understand that everything Tom Hanks (Paul Edgecomb in the movie) touches becomes a work of art. In supporting this statement, we can easily think about Saving Private Ryan and Apollo 13. Perhaps, one of the most imposing figures in the whole movie is that of Michael Clark Duncan, a very imposing black man, acting the role of a convict, imprisoned for the brutal rape and murder of two little girls. Even if Duncan never played this kind of roles before (one can remember him better from bouncers and football players roles), in Darabount's film we can discover him able of showing great emotional rage and subtle talent for much deeper roles.

The year of the movie is 1935 but the year of the storytelling is 1999, the present. This means, the film tells its story in flashbacks by Paul Edgecomb (Hanks), a former upstanding guard who oversees the death row in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. His acting is very humanistic, receiving his inmates as human beings and treating them as so until the execution. The same case with Paul's colleagues (David Morse, Jeffrey DeMunn, Barry Peppe ) who are generally easygoing fellas disposed to show human and respectful treatment toward the inmates. There is an exception though, in the character of Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison). Not only that he is mean and evil-minded, he is also the governor's nephew, so he cannot be fired and he love playing with the prisoners' dignity. But when a very dangerous convict has arrived, Billy the Kid, played by Sam Rockwell, Percy disgraces himself in very different way, including his inability to stop the criminal from an almost deadly attack on one of the guards. When the same criminal attacked him, through the bars, he got so scared that he pissed on himself. In order for Paul and his colleagues to keep the silence, they made a deal: if Percy will be in front at the next execution, he'll be gone to another place, a better job he's been offered.
Everything seemed to work properly in the penitentiary, under Edgecomb's professional management. This until a new convict has arrived: John Coffey. Despite his imposing figure and his enormity, and the fact that he was sentenced to death for raping and killing two little girls, the giant seemed harmful: he was gentle as a lamb, afraid of the dark and occasionally burst into tears.
The Green Mile is a real/supernatural drama in which we can feel the echoes of The Shawahank Redemption. We can look at it's inner meanings and we can find a lots of. The figure of Christ in the person of Coffey is inevitably considered. He is on the edge of his life, condemned for a crime he didn't commit, accepting his situation, in order to change something in the world. For he says : “He killed them with their love. That's how it is, every day, all over the world.” He got tired of being sent by the Good , acting like a saint but never receiving a feedback.
What again must be mentioned is the attention Darabount payed in what's concerning the visuals and the exact attention for the detail, from the costumes to the lights. The music, which was released on 14th of December, 1999, by Warner Bros, containing primarily instrumental tracks from the music score by Thomas Newman, had also the awaited effect. Somehow it managed to connect the scenes, it worked as an editor. The genuine of the drama was also an effect of the stupendous performing of the cast. The behavior of the guards, in front with Hanks, was irreproachable , exactly the one expected by the public. In the same tone, the prisoners acted incredibly real. There was not a single moment of irrationality in the construction of their parts; genuine acting again. Interesting to put down on paper is how Frank Darabount played with the camera. He focused on every character's face, those close-ups, like he was trying to paint each of the characters' story.
With all these considered, I can't say that The Green Mile has no issues. In what I'm concerned, it could be a little bit shortened. It's true that the movie has the capacity to keep you connected, but though, the three hours could have been made only two and a half. Maybe that's the reason for which the character, Edgecomb, says in the end of the film : “But God, sometimes, the Green Mile seems so long”. And if all along the movie, some of the features were left to the field of unknown, maybe it would have been better to remain so, without their revealing in the end of the film, with the old Paul Edgecomb (played by Dabbs Greer), relating his story to his friend, Elaine. With this little detail and some other, maybe it would have achieved the glory of The Shawshank Redemption. But even so, Frank Darabout did a great job.