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The Green Mile

"The Green Mile" on DVD

Big Isn't Necessarily Bad

Warner Brothers’ “The Green Mile” is a Stephen King story, so you know it’ll have something supernatural about it.

In this case, it’s John Coffey, an apparently gentle giant of a man convicted of murdering two little girls. He arrives on Death Row (“The Green Mile” of the title) at Cold Mountain Pentitentiary to have his last days “hosted” by guards led by Tom Hanks and David Morse.

Coffey’s more than he appears to be, however, and over the course of the movie’s three hour running time (which never drags) we learn about his special gift – and his guilt of the crime for which he was sentenced.

Tom Hanks leads a great ensemble cast that, besides Morse, includes Michael Clarke Duncan (a real find!) as Coffey, Bonnie Hunt as Hanks’ wife, the ubiquitous James Cromwell as Hanks team’s boss, and Michael Jeter as a caged cajun criminal who adopts a talented mouse named Mr. Jingles.

This is a movie that works on many levels, and succeeds on them all. There are good guys and bad guys, and decent guys with the distasteful job of sending the hardened criminals onto their final journey.

At its heart, the movie is very much about justice. It’s also about “Just is,” as in “It isn’t justice, it just is.”

Fortunately, though this description doesn’t do the film justice, justice is meted out quite fairly in “The Green Mile,” for the most part. Those who deserve a comeuppance get it, those who deserve a break – or a miracle – get it; the only one who suffers a fate that isn’t just is a tragic hero who may not deserve the fate handed out, but who welcomes it nonetheless as a release from the pain of living.

This is a bittersweet, though quite uplifting, movie, and an enjoyable return to the director’s chair of Frank Darabont, who also wrote the screenplay and who in 1994 made the King-inspired “Shawshank Redemption.” Darabont shows a sure touch in this great-looking period piece and gives us characters about whom we can really care – either positively or negatively.

The DVD is presented in widescreen, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and the quality of both is terrific. You also get “Walking the Mile,” a documentary on the making of the film, as well as production notes and the trailer.

The Green Mile, from Warner Home Video
181 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Tom Hanks, David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Cromwell
Produced by David Valdes and Frank Darabont
Written and Directed Frank Darabont


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Updated May 13, 2006