While the film's premise may be too fantastic to take as possible, the themes it covers so well are not. It is a film about self sacrifice, about inherent goodness, about making judgments and finding them misplaced. It is about forgiving ourselves and forgiving others. It is about friendship, about shared gains and losses.
I have thought of writing about The Green Mile many times the past eight years, but I have never been sure what to say about it. Those who have read the book or seen the film know what it is about. They require no apprising or convincing. But what to tell those who have not read the book or seen the film? My suggestion is to see the film.
At its core, the story suggests strongly that a central character - John Coffey - was a gift from God, a man without anger, hatred, or animosity toward anyone. He was a man possessed of a unique ability that defies our logic or knowledge. Simply put, he could take away the pain, injury or illness of others by taking it unto himself. Played masterfully by late actor Michael Clarke Duncan, a hulking mountain of a man, this hero is one who can bring tears to your eyes. His size and strength belie his tender, childlike heart and spirit.
In my mind, John Coffey appeals to the inherent goodness in all of us. We find him as a man on death row in Depression Era Louisiana, found guilty of a heinous crime. As events unfold, we learn that he was guiltless of the crime, but that evidence reasonably pointed to him as the guilty party.
Tom Hanks plays the lead prison guard for the unit called "the Green Mile," and heads up a cast of fellow actors who all shine in their roles. The shooting of the film was surely a labor of love for actors David Morse, James Cromwell, Barry Pepper, and Jeffrey Demunn, who collectively are good guys doing a hard job.
I prefer not to give too much away of the story. If you have not seen it, consider it as a possibility. It is fiction. It does not have to be true, or even possible. The themes it discusses are important, however.
If you watch it, you may prefer to see it on cable or broadcast television. It has some segments that are somewhat disturbing, and editing for cable or broadcast tends to make those parts better.
A host of excellent actors, including Harry Dean Stanton, Sam Rockwell and Graham Greene, play prisoners. I generally do not care for films about prisons or prisoners, but this one is something special, because it is really about life and the good things possible to find in it. If you watch it, you will forever love the Irving Berlin song sung by Fred Astaire "I'm in Heaven," also known as "Cheek to Cheek."
© 2014, Jim “Pappy” Moore,
All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home. firstname.lastname@example.org