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Condemned to Death, John Coffey Looms as the Mysterious Healer and Vessel for Others' Pain
on February 3, 2017
Abject cruelty and the rarest compassion coexist on death row in this Louisiana prison in 1935. Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), head guard, exhibits the latter. The green mile refers to the final walk of inmates to their deaths along a green corridor. A marvelous huge man and recently arrived prisoner is John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), convicted in the rapes and murders of 2 young girls. Coffey keeps urging guard Edgecomb, who is suffering excruciating pain from what is likely kidney stones, to go to him. Finally he succumbs, and is stunned as he watches the huge hand of Coffey reach through his bars and firmly grasp his genitals. Then comes a great gyration and explosions of light. Coffey doubles over, ostensibly extricating the pain from Paul and taking it into himself, until a wild collection of bits of matter explode from Coffey's mouth, signaling the release of the vicarious pain. And then Coffey is spent and collapses in exhaustion. What results from this amazing gift, you will see. The bond that forms between these 2 and the mutually supportive dynamics are moving. The paradox of this supposedly cruelest of men as a symbol of the most exquisite empathy is breathtaking. This is a casting phenomenon -- such exceptional acting everywhere! The directing and writing by Frank Darabont, adapted from Stephen King's novel are so worthy. Cinematography, editing, artistic and special effects,all filmmaking disciplines are extraordinary and in perfect sync. It's a film for the ages, a must see!