It is very unlikely that someone has not watched the movie ‘The Green Mile’ or at least not knowing what is going on in this, now an evergreen, American film. The green mile is a film that undoubtedly gives its viewers a great impression and whose meaning can be interpreted in many ways. The Green Mile – Trying to find the “God”
The great acting team and the phenomenal role of Frank Darabont revived the amazing story Stephen King had made in his book of the same name.
This is a film that talks about a lot of different topics, about the fundamental struggle of light and darkness, about how people are causing damage to others, and about sin and repentance. Although it is very difficult to convey the experience and the action of this film on paper, this article will try to explain at least somehow what this movie represents. We will talk about the plot of the film, the main (and secondary) characters and the meaning of the film.
Green Mile combines several time periods and the whole action is told in flashback as the memories of the main character Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks). The film’s plot begins in 1999, with a scene in the old man’s home where old Paul, stimulated by the movie Top Hat that he watched, began to cry while remembering the time when he worked at the Cold Mountain prison in the department for death penalties. He starts telling to his friend what happened to him then and the scene returns to in 1935 when the film actually begins.
In 1935, Paul Edgecomb worked in a part of the prison which was symbolically called Green Mile, due to the greenish linoleum that was coated under which the prisoners walk from their cell to the electric chair. Over the years, Edgecomb has followed various prisoners through the Green Mile. Although he works with convicts who are condemned to death, Paul treated all prisoners with dignity and respect. One day, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) comes to this department, a huge black man convicted of killing two little girls. Coffey is so powerful that he can kill anyone, but his behavior is contrary to his appearance.
Simply, he is naive and frightfully scared of the dark. He is innocent, he can not read and write, he is very simple, does not have problems and he is not aware of the circumstances in which he is. No one has left as much impression on experienced guard Paul Edgecomb as Coffey has. This benevolent giant possesses supernatural powers that cured Paul’s infection as well as deathly sick woman, the prison warden. Because of the whole situation, Paul Edgecomb is beginning to doubt Coffey’s guilt. Is it possible that such a mild and good man killed two girls? However, the evidence against Coffey was strong. He was found holding the bodies of the girls in his arms, and although he was innocent (he tried to save them), it was not possible to prove it. In the 1930s in Louisiana, a black man with such evidence would condemn each jury.
Contrary to the good Coffey is Percy Wetmore, evil and not very popular guard, who started working in Green Mile soon after Coffey’s arrival. Percy symbolically represents the evil and the dark that is always in the fight with goodness and light. His malice is particularly evident in the scene when he sabotaged the execution of an inmate.
Shortly after this event, a violent prisoner named William “Wild Bill” Wharton comes to Green Mile. At some point, Coffey realized that he is the man that actually killed the girls whose murder Coffey was convicted of, and he will stage Warton’s murder.
After a particularly strong scene in which John shows Paul what happened to the girls, but also with all the weight that he carries with his gift, Paul asks him if he simply wants to leave him out of jail. However, the burden that Coffey was wearing was too difficult. He felt the pain that was present in the world, and because he could no longer suffer, he decided that he was ready to go. His last wish was to watch the movie Top Hat.
The path of death or the Green Mile, the realization of sin and repentance, is the last step to justice. But when a person is sentenced to death, this means that he is definitely guilty and we can act according to him as he deserved. Paul Edgecomb was wondering what is in the minds of all these people, whether they are aware of their passing and whether they are reprimanded for their actions. He wanted to know that. The mere fact that the killers are located in Green Mile is very often forgotten. All of these people might be ordinary citizens and good friends. Sometimes it seems that Percy should be in one of the cells, and not John Coffey.
However, he is free, Coffey is convicted although he is innocent and has far more humanity and goodness in himself than Percy. Coffey’s sentence consisted mostly of being “monstrously huge” black and only a minor part in killing two girls. The fact that John Coffey showed that he was not guilty of the murder did not change the course of events. Can you see the motive of world pain in him? World pain symbolizes the inability to change the world, that goodness will overcome primordial evil, sink into disappointment and hopelessness. Usually the path of hopelessness is the road to death. Not for themselves and their own ideals, but for others and their lack of desire to govern the good to the world.
John Coffey did not want to defend himself and did not want to stay alive. He satisfied cosmic justice and from his angle, the world is just a big cage in which he is captured and wants to escape from it. Death is the only salvation from the evil that surrounds him and to which he is helpless. He is the true embodiment of goodness that gives everything nothing to look for in return, he is ready to sacrifice his life for the guilt of another because he has failed to save something that others have spoiled. John Coffey represents that perfect goodness. Goodness does not seek anything for oneself, goodness does not seek reward or merit. It clearly distinguishes good from bad, but the problem arises when others do not know how that. That is why John Coffey decides to walk the Green Mile.
Yes, it is not difficult to determine that the plot of the movie reminds us of the execution of a man who took the sins of people 2000 years ago and tried to redeem them.
The Green Mile represents in some ways a modern representation of the life of Jesus Christ, that is, John Coffey, who is the embodiment of God. Not only does he share the same initials with Christ (John Coffey – Jesus Christ) and the fate of the innocent defendant, but also baptism, love for people, the ability of healing and resurrection.
This is a film about compassion in which Coffey, as well as Christ, dies because of the sins of others who are not capable of doing good. In addition, the film also shows the true nature of the death penalty, how cruel it is, especially if it is shown that someone is innocent sentenced to it.
In Green Mile, grace and kindness come from John Coffey’s “grotesque” character, which at the time could not have been recognized in such a man. Again, this is an incredible similarity with Jesus, who, for the sake of goodness and grace to people who were not recognized again, was executed. Nevertheless, when it comes to John Coffey and Paul Edgecomb, it is impossible not to look at the actors; incredible Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan; versatile Tom who mixes each of his roles in the most perfect way, with lots of sincere emotions and fantastic acting.
We can see how much he was devoted to the role of Paul Edgecomb by the fact that he was always Paul. He did not get out of the character even when he was on a break or when the director invited him. Tom wanted to play an older version of himself in the film, and only the makeup stopped him in that wish, which despite the magical hand of the makeup artists, could not present him credibly.
Michael Clarke Duncan quite accidentally got the role of Coffey. For that, Bruce Willis actually played the biggest role, who, when he heard about casting for Green Mile, immediately suggested to his colleague from Armageddon that he was sure he was created for the role of John Coffey. Everything else is history. This unique blend of actors’ characters ultimately revived the Green Mile.
The film lasts for over three hours, but that is absolutely necessary in order to get into the story completely. Any shortening of the duration of the film would not be a true insight into the story King wanted to give. The film has plenty of space and time to fully meet Paul Edgecomb and the fantastic John Coffey, their relationship, with kindness, evil, grace, and punishment.