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The Green Mile: Movie Review

Updated on March 12, 2013
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Determining what generates a good film is often decided by the viewer or, in the case of a review, the writer. While some writers may look for a good plot and amazing cinematography, others will look for awards received or possibly an outstanding cast. The criteria I feel best signifies a great film begins with the cast. A veteran cast is undoubtedly important in making a good film.

In The Green Mile, with Tom Hanks as Prison Guard, Paul Edgecomb and Bonnie Hunt as Mrs. Edgecomb, success is almost a promise. Janet Maslin commented, “Tom Hanks, …is so unaffectedly good that it has become redundant to say so…” (1999). Supporting cast includes seasoned actors David Morse (The Negotiator, Proof of Life) as a fellow guard and James Cromwell (Secretariat, Pope John Paul II) as Warden. While experience is a plus, it is imperceptible that Michael Clarke Duncan was a novice when he played the part of John Coffey, a role that quickly propelled his career forward.

The number of awards received by a film, along with those received by the cast and director, are a good indication of a successful film. With 12 nominations, The Green Mile stands above many others. Among those nominations, are winners for Best Adapted Screenplay, Frank Darabont and Best Supporting Actor, Michael Clarke Duncan (NYTimes.com, 1999). The film is adapted from a series of books written by Stephen King. Darabont first gained notoriety when he directed The Shawshank Redemption, also written by S. King.

Another mark of a good film is the amount of revenue it brings in at the box office. In 1999, The Green Mile was ranked number 12, with approximately $136,801,374 in sales (boxofficemojo, 1999). Opening weekend, the film was ranked number five.

Mark Reiter writes, “Cloaked in the guise of a prison drama” and “how little ground Hollywood has made on the racial front.” Reiter also comments “we have a three-hour film in

which the sole black figure is locked in a cage throughout” (1999). Reiter describes the movie as a ‘prison drama.’

One of the major characters is a black prisoner on death row, circa 1935. However, the race of the character is not the foundation of the movie, nor is the prison. The foundation is John Coffey. John is introduced in a gruesome scene that implies he is guilty of a hideous crime. John has been found guilty of the crime. As the movie progresses, viewers discover John is a very gentle soul, incapable of any crime.

Indications that John is an angel are seen throughout the film, in his ability to heal the sick and communicate memories through touch. His healing abilities are shown when he brings a tiny mouse back from death. One of the most uplifting moments in the film is when John heals the terminally ill wife of the warden, gaining the respect of most of the prison staff.

The wrongdoer is a scoundrel known as Wild Bill. Bill was hired by a family man to help out around the home place. There were two young girls in the family, who were murdered by Wild Bill. John Coffey and Wild Bill both ended up on the Green Mile. During one very intense meeting between the two, Bill grabs John’s hand and in the ensuing moments, the audience is shown visions of the crime, as transported through the touching of the men’s hands. These visions are later ‘shown’ to Paul Ebsecomb and in turn, Paul realizes John’s innocence.

Ebsecomb, with his understanding of John’s righteousness, has trouble dealing with his duty to execute John, who he feels is “One of God’s true miracles.” He gains peace of mind when John tells him he no longer wants to live with the hate in the world. Offering ‘proof’ that angels exist, the movie is touching and tender to the very end. In an interview with Barnes & Noble, Tom Hanks summed it up with the comment, “The myths of old were always illuminating the great paradox of what it is to be alive. I think that Stephen King did that in this novel (Hanks, 1999).”

While all of the critics may not like the film, as indicated in Reiter’s review of the film (1999), the numbers were superb enough to make it one of the top films of 1999. With twelve award nominations, twelfth place ranking at the box office and an outstanding cast, The Green Mile was one of the top movies of 1999.

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    • lindalou1963 profile image
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      Linda 4 years ago from Texas

      A realize this is an older movie, but I'm trying to hone my skills and I would like some serious feedback about this. Thanks!!!!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I loved this movie; one of my favorites! Hanks is incredibly good in this movie; he under-played the role to perfection. Your review was quite good.

    • lindalou1963 profile image
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      Linda 4 years ago from Texas

      Thank you. I made a 97 on the assignment. I'm really trying to works on my 'non creative' skills.

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Great review of a great movie - if I hadn't seen it I would no exactly what it's characters portray - good job...cheers

    • lindalou1963 profile image
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      Linda 4 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Carter. :)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      One of my top 5 favorite movies. I've watched this movie so many times I could probably recite the lines! I could relate to so many different aspects of the film...such as walking the green mile to make a decision or wanting to stuff moon pies in my mouth and spit them out at someone! Haha! Love it!!

    • lindalou1963 profile image
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      Linda 4 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Sunshine.... this IS my favorite! ANd I, too, can recite the lines, thats one reason this assignment (for school) was so easy for me, I was writing on something I am very familiar with.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      lindalou1963, I love this movie and this is a very good review. It is one of those movies you can watch again and again and still enjoy it. Tom Hanks is very good in it and as you say, it has such a strong cast that it could not fail to do well.

    • lindalou1963 profile image
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      Linda 4 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Jools for reading and for commenting!!

    • kathyinmn profile image

      Kathy 4 years ago from Jordan MN

      when I watch a movie, I do not pay attention to the critics, my taste in movies is not thiers. your review was very interesting.

      I loved loved loved this movie when I saw it!

      On one thing is, do not read the book before you see the made movie for it you will always be disapointed, read it after you see the movie

    • lindalou1963 profile image
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      Linda 4 years ago from Texas

      kathy, thanks for the advice! and thank you for commenting! :)

    • Mike Robbers profile image

      Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

      Everything about this movie was delightful. I recommend seeing this movie with someone especially close to you.

      Your review is excellent, thanks a lot

    • lindalou1963 profile image
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      Linda 4 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Mike!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I enjoyed watching this movie, and still believe it to be a classic. Hanks played his role to perfection and it is one of the reasons it was a hit. Your review was very well done.

    • lindalou1963 profile image
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      Linda 4 years ago from Texas

      I agree, it is a classic... Thank you for your comment.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      It was sad to hear of Michael Clark Duncans passing. He was a great actor. This is one of my favorite movies and you provided a very good review.

    • lindalou1963 profile image
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      Linda 4 years ago from Texas

      Thank you!

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