Top positive review
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A testament to humanity and a fine story
on October 12, 2000
Starring Tom Hanks as a death-row prison guard in 1935, and written by Stephen King, this is an example of story-telling at its finest. My most frequent criticism of films is that they tend to be overlong, but The Green Mile, at a three full hours, needed every precious second in order to pace the story, develop its characters, and lead the viewer into the satisfying conclusion.
Despite some gruesome scenes depicting the details of electric chair execution, the film is a testament to the humanity of people. The audience gets to experience the stress of the responsibility of prison guards seeking to bring a bit of dignity to the last days of the convicted men, and we share their moral dilemma when they are faced with hard choices.
Michael Clarke Duncan, cast as the simple and honest black man sentenced to die for supposedly killing two little girls, is absolutely superb and was nominated for an academy award for his outstanding performance. He's 43 years old, 6'5" tall and a former ditch digger and bodyguard. He has the rare quality to be able to show emotion in a way that makes the audience understand the complexities of his character.
Tom Hanks, of course, is excellent, giving us the kind of fine performance we have come to expect of him. And the rest of the cast, including Michael Jeter as the villain, and David Morse as a fellow prison guard are perfect. There is also a small cameo role for Gary Sinese as the Louisiana prosecutor who believes in the guilt of the supposed killer.
Directed by Frank Darabont who also shared the scripting of this film with Stephen King, every scene is constructed with just the right amount of tension to keep the viewer glued to the screen. There was not one wasted moment.
But by no means is this a simple "wrongly-accused killer" film. There's a slight suspension of reality well integrated into the story line. And constant thought-provoking questions that stay with you long after the video is over.
Unless you are the kind of person who absolutely can't bear some heart-wrenching brutal scenes, don't miss this video. I give it my highest rating.