The Green Mile Review and Blu-ray Features
The Green Mile
10 Dec 1999
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
Why didn’t Paul simply stop the execution when he discovered the sponge was dry during Del’s execution? There seemed to be enough time to stop it…
The easiest answer that we see in the film is that there wasn’t time. When Paul figures things out, Percy (Doug Hutchison) has given the order, Jack (Bill McKinney) has already thrown the switch, and it’s much too late to stop things and rewire Del so that he’d suffer much less. The scene is depicted in real time, but doesn’t actually happen that way. There are two things going on at once: (1) Percy’s management of the entire execution and his orders being followed (“Roll on two!” the order to throw the switch), and (2) Paul’s reaction to the revelation about the sponge, the consequences that will inevitably result, and the reaction of the witnesses gathered in the room. It’s all done very well to give the viewer a sense of the sequence of events involved, however, it’s not actually “real time” as we know it. So, by the time we see everyone’s actions and Paul’s reaction, it’s too late.
Why were there people sitting in the room when the executions in the film happened?
Whenever a sentence of capital punishment is carried out in the United States, the law requires people be present as witnesses to see the convict actually die. The witnesses are all volunteers. In most states, if not all, the victim’s family is also given the option to attend the execution, as is the case in this movie
What did John Coffey shoot out of his mouth everytime he healed someone?
This is not fully explained in either the movie or the novel. When Coffey tried to revive the little girls, he mentioned that he tried to ‘take it back’, suggesting that sickness and death are phenomena that can invade a person, but can also be taken out again. Think of it as the physical manifestation of whatever disease or sickness John “sucked” out of those he helped. In the short story The Little Sisters of Eluria, King describes “Doctor Bugs”, which are parasitic organisms that first heal people so that they might feed on them slowly. It’s been tossed around that Coffey’s “bugs” may or may not be the same kind of organism, though there’s no confirmation one way or the other or even that they are bugs.
Why wasn’t Wild Bill a suspect in the murder of the little girls?
At the time of their murder, there was no link between the girls and Wild Bill Wharton (Sam Rockwell). He was simply a drifter who worked for food and a place to sleep, and he had moved on by the time the girls went missing. When they were found in the arms of John Coffey, a poor, simple-minded, imposing black man who was saying, “I tried to take it back, but it was too late,” that was proof enough to everyone that Coffey was guilty.
Once Paul learned the truth that Wild Bill killed the girls, why didn’t he try to file an appeal for John Coffey?
Paul had no physical evidence to prove that John was innocent. Just saying that John showed him what really happened through a psychic link wouldn’t exactly go over well. John’s knowledge of the details would have only convinced a jury that John indeed had committed the crime. Then, Percy shooting and killing Wild Bill ruined any chance of him ever admitting to the crime. On a less pragmatic note: John Coffey himself admits that, prisoner or no, his life is one of constant pain and suffering, as a result of his sensitivity to the evil in the world. To quote him directly:
I’m tired boss. […] Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. […] It’s like pieces of glass in my head all the time.
After hearing this, Paul came to the conclusion that sending John Coffey to the chair could justifiably be considered an act of kindness.
How does the movie end?
Paul finishes telling his story about John Coffey to Elaine, but she doesn’t seem convinced, so he takes her on a walk out to the abandoned cabin where she is introduced to a mouse sleeping in a Marsh Wheeling cigar box. It is Mr Jingles, whom Paul found after John’s execution and whom he has been taking care of over since. Paul feels that John ‘infected’ him and Mr Jingles with his gift of life, admitting that he is 108 years old, and that he believes this is his punishment for letting a miracle of God die in the electric chair. Following a vignette of Paul attending Elaine’s funeral, Paul says in a voiceover: ‘We each owe a death…there are no exceptions. But oh God, sometimes The Green Mile seems so long.”
Why does Mr Jingles live as long as Paul Edgecomb?
Because of the accidental “gift” John Coffey transferred to the mouse while holding the mouse during Del’s execution. John says later that the mouse felt what he felt. When Paul takes John’s hand and sees what John saw of the murders, John gives him the same gift, although this time purposefully. However, there is no indication that Mr Jingles will live “as long as” Paul Edgecomb, only that they both will have extended lifespans. Coffey’s healing of Paul and Mr Jingles was as much a curse as it was a gift: the price that Paul pays is that he’ll outlive everyone he loves, such as his wife, his son, and Elaine.
RT/Meta Critic Review
‘The Green Mile’ is an incredibly effective prison drama with terrific performances and a script that deals with grief in an innovative and emotionally resonant way. (Liam Gadd/RT)
One of the best prison films ever made.(Click here to see)
Much like The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile‘s memory play aesthetic lends itself to a color palette soaked in nostalgic honey brown tones, a warm and slightly stylized appearance bolstered by a solid, but not quite perfect 1080p/VC-1 encoded transfer. This is certainly the best the film has ever looked on home video, and I personally wouldn’t hesitate to upgrade from the DVD, but there are a few slight issues that keep The Green Mile from being thoroughly impressive. Though the film has always had a strong sense of saturation and contrast, here primary colors can seem too strong at times—like old Mr. Edgecomb’s red rain slicker or the yellow cast in young Paul’s house—and black levels have a tendency to crush detail during some of the dimmer indoor scenes. Dark hair sometimes becomes a mass of solid black, sides of faces are lost to chiaroscuro shadows, and the lapels and pockets of the prison guards’ deep navy uniforms are frequently indiscernible. How much of this is intentional is hard to say, but in all other ways, this is a winning transfer. Aside from a few soft shots, clarity is exceptional, with every pore, crease, and bead of sweat visible on Tom Hanks’ face. I noticed some light edge enhancement during a few scenes, but you’d have to go out of your way to look for it. Film lovers will also be glad to hear that The Green Mile retains all of its natural and pleasing grain structure, which is thin enough most of the time that even the most virulent grain haters won’t mind. And as the film fits nicely onto a 50-GB platter, you won’t find any compression-related problems like banding or blocking. If it weren’t for the occasionally too strong black levels I would probably be singing this transfer’s praises, but even with the crush I found the film’s picture quality to be warm, sharp, and inviting.
It might not be rife with bombastic, ear-pummeling, channel-panning sound design, but The Green Mile‘s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track is dynamically solid, clean as a whistle, and modestly engaging. The rear speakers nearly always broadcast subtle ambient sounds—rain pours, thunder claps, birds chirp, crickets sing, chain gangs clank, and electricityzizzits ominously, a portent of lethal surges to come. Indeed, the electrocution scenes find this track at its most active and disturbing, with the buzzing hum of power mixed with squealing, frying, and crackling sounds not unlike bacon sizzling on a griddle. With the exception of some mumbled lines by Michael Clark Duncan, dialogue is crisp and clear, well prioritized even in the more sonically cluttered scenes (of which there are few). Actually, the track is quite impressive when dealing with small sound effects that need to stand out from Thomas Newman’s fantastic score. I loved hearing Mr. Jingle’s little paws patter across the linoleum floor of the green mile, just discernable enough to register as convincing. Though short on sonic theatrics, this track suits the largely dialogue-driven film and frequently builds up an involving ambient soundfield.
Owners of previous DVD releases will find nothing new here, but the special features are definitely worthwhile for those that haven’t seen them before. The disc is housed in a digibook that includes trivia, actor bios, and a short essay.
Commentary by Director Frank Darabont
Darabont hops right into this track, launching into a discussion about on-location shots and studio set-design, and the pace rarely relents over three hours as the director offers up more technical and production-related information than you could shake a prison guard’s baton at. Oddly enough, Darabont gives us not only a backstage view of the film, but also of his commentary itself, as mid-way through he introduces Emily, the associate producer for the commentary, who admits “I make sure he says everything that he needs to say.” Darabont says, “She keeps me in line, and she keeps me talking.”
Walking the Mile: The Making of The Green Mile (SD, 25:30)
A standard-issue but entertaining “making of” featurette, Walking the Mile features interviews with all the key players and lots of behind-the-scenes footage. The material here is eclipsed, though, by the exhaustive documentary that follows.
Miracles and Mystery: Creating The Green Mile (SD, 1:42:54)
A full meal in and of itself—I wouldn’t recommend watching it right after the three hour film—this six-part documentary explores every aspect of the The Green Mile‘s journey from serialized novel to the screen. Stephen King: Storyteller is an overview of the author’s style, The Art of Adaptation features Frank Darabont talking about the process of writing the screenplay, and Acting on the Mile includes interviews with the film’s actors, who all seem to agree that making The Green Mile was a terrific and rare experience. Designing the Mile delves into production design, cinematography, and costuming, The Magic of the Mile examines the film’s often subtle visual effects, and The Tail of Mr. Jingles praises animal trainer Boone Narr’s work wrangling the 15 or so mice that were each trained to do different “stunts.”
Deleted Scenes (SD, 3:38 total)
Includes two scenes, Bitterbuck’s Family Says Goodbye, and Coffey’s Prayer. Frank Darabont offers optional commentary for both scenes.
Michael Clarke Duncan’s Screen Test (SD, 8:26)
If I had watched these fantastic screen tests, I would’ve hired Duncan too.
Tom Hanks’ Makeup Tests (SD, 5:30)
For most of the production, Frank Darabont always intended for Tom Hanks to play the old version of Paul Edgecomb as well. After seeing the unsettling and less-than-believable old age makeup by practical effects gurus Rick Baker and Greg Nicotero, you’ll understand why Darabont decided to cast Dabbs Greer instead.
Includes the “lost” teaser trailer (1:58), which was abandoned when Darabont realized the mouse looked like a giant rat, a brief documentary about the scuttled teaser trailer (4:47), and the theatrical trailer (2:23)