The Green Mile - a Stephen King movie

By: Darren Lambert

The Green Mile is a movie about a series of events on Louisiana death row in the 1930s. The original story was written by Stephen King. The movie was directed by Frank Darabont, who wrote the screenplay. Tom Hanks stars as the main character Paul Edgecomb, Michael Clarke Duncan co-stars as John Coffey.

The movie centres on Paul Edgecomb, head of the guard of a death row facility. Paul and his guards take custody of an unusual inmate, John Coffey. Coffey is a gigantic yet extremely compassionate and gentle man. Coffey has been convicted of raping and killing two young girls. At first the guards are wary of Coffey, but his kind nature soon changes the guards perception of him.

John Coffey soon displays extraordinary healing powers. He heels Paul Edgecomb’s urinary infection, and brings back to life a mouse killed by another inmate. The guards realise that Coffey has supernatural powers, and that they will be lost when he is executed.

The wife of the warden of the correctional facility is terminally ill. Paul Edgecomb is upset by this news of his friend. The guards develop a plan to smuggle John Coffey out of the prison, to the warden’s house, to cure the warden’s wife, and then return Coffey to The Green Mile. They all risk their jobs, and possibly becoming criminals themselves to move Coffey in and out of the prison. Coffey is taken to the warden’s house, where he removes the disease from the warden’s wife.

The story also contains the character Percy Wetmore. Percy is a vicious and unpleasant prison officer. He intimidates and injures the inmates. He is unlike the other guards, who are firm but compassionate prison officers, and is not liked. Wetmore agrees to transfer to a different position if he is in charge of the next execution. A reluctant agreement is made. However, Wetmore sabotages the electrocution, causing maximum suffering to the inmate.

John Coffey seeks revenge on Percy Wetmore, for the pain he caused the inmate during the electrocution. After Coffey is returned to The Green Mile, from the warden’s house, he transfers the disease he removed from the warden’s wife to Percy. Percy is then set in a permanent catatonic state.

A violent prisoner called William Wharton arrives at The Green Mile. During one scene Wharton grabs the arm of Coffey, who sees that Wharton is the true killer of the girls for which Coffey has been sentenced to death. Coffey then uses his powers to transfer this image to Paul Edgecomb, the head of the guard.

With this information Paul Edgecomb still has to execute John Coffey. A man he knows is innocent and who posses’ incredible powers.

The movie is told in flashback. Paul is now an elderly main, and is explaining the series of events to another resident in his care home. After the story is told Edgecomb reveals that he is now 108 years old. This is an apparent side effect of John Coffey’s life giving powers. However, Paul believes his outliving of his relatives and friends is a punishment from God for not stopping Coffey’s execution.

The Louisiana death row is called The Green Mile because death row is often called “the last mile”. In Louisiana the floor is green.

The Green Mile was written by Stephen King. King has written two prison stories, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. Both were adapted to movies, and directed by Frank Darabont.

The Green Mile was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2000. These were Best Actor in A Supporting Role, Best Picture, Best Sound and Best Writing: Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published. It won none of these awards.

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Darren Lambert is a keen fan of the Green Mile. Read more about The Green Mile on Darren's website.

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