THE GREEN MILE
Original 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio (Anamorphic Widescreen)
Dolby Digital 5.1
Movie: 188 minutes / Featurette: 10 minutes
Frank Darabont, David Valdes
Tom Hanks, James Cromwell, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse
· Behind-The-Scenes Feature 'Walking the Mile'
· Theatrical Trailer
· Productions Notes
· Cast and Filmmakers' Bios and Filmographies
· Dual Layered Disc (RSDL)
Reviewer: Marc Flemming [Staff]
A baby is born in the freezing morning hours of a back alley in the lost and forgotten canals of a big city; Born from a mother with a habit and without a home, yet in the heat of their bliss, they find momentary comfort. In the torn and battered backfields of a land enveloped in chaos and war, the dog tags of a soldier fall mercifully in the way of a passing bullet in line with his heart, sparing him another moment's breath and extending hope that he will see his family again. Irony saturates some of the mankind's most graceful and forgiving miracles as they often occur in the deepest depths amidst the bowels of all humanity. The Green Mile is a tale of miracles structured under these same circumstances. Paradoxical occurrences such as these may be a stepping stone to the heavens, but unfortunately the gift of such irony can come at a price so high, even the most powerful man will fall before a higher authority.
John Coffey [Michael Clarke Duncan, in Armageddon, Whole Nine Yards and others] is a big man. But his size hardly represents his disposition – and his disposition hardly reflects that he is a convicted murder on Death Row. As a dead man walking for the crimes of killing two young girls, Coffey finds his home along the green mile, the stretch of cells that house men in their final days before they face their fate in ol' Sparky, an electrical throne that will see to it that they never walk amongst the people they offended – again. When it comes to maintaining law and order along the green mile, Paul Edgecomb [Tom Hanks, in Forest Gump, Philadelphia, Saving Private Ryan, and others] runs the show. Edgecomb, a religious, honorable, and highly regarded man also sees the good in others despite their self-imposed afflictions and in this light, treats the people and prisoners around him respectably. Despite his professional posterity, Edgecomb suffers from a tremendously painful urinary infection that effectively collapses the world around him at which no time can be considered convenient. It is only soon after the arrival of Coffey, that Edgecomb discovers this death row inmate's unique gift capable of providing unheard of marvels beyond his or anyone's understanding. Based on these unfolding circumstances, Paul and the other members of the green mile find themselves torn between their responsibilities as officers imposing his conviction to suffer death for his crimes and the feelings deep within themselves that declare his innocence.
Visually – The Green Mile utilizes the capabilities of the format recreating the experience in an accurate and pleasing appearance. While the production set designer's vision of a drab array of tan, brown and green tones leaves the visual presentation muted in its onscreen manifestation, sharp contrast in rich, accurate color delivery is present in the pinks of cheeks, lush foliage greens, and the lavish red's of modern raincoats amidst stark surroundings. The only blemish in this otherwise visually appealing presentation is the unsightly layer change that always inevitably sparks conversation amongst the viewing audience. Of course, layer change results are based on the capabilities of your player (a Sony 7000 in this case) entwined with the efforts of the DVD development crew. More than anything, this is still a technical skill that will be refined over the coming years with the advancements in mastering procedures and hardware capabilities.
This film is a "people movie" in that its focus is to deliver a story that contains mostly down-to-earth dialogue and human interaction. Under such circumstances, I normally do not expect a lot in the way of dramatic sound presentation, but occasionally a film will surprisingly please where expectations were initially low. The Green Mile does just that by making good use of discrete sound presentation by utilizing the spatiality of a Dolby Digital 5.1 environment. The soft ticking of a clock in the background is as clear as the deep rumbling of distant thunder. The atmospheric effects scatter to the rears more often than not adding a thick element of submersion in a film that is otherwise intentionally unextraordinary in this department. In addition, the music is handsomely crafted to accompany the story producing a rich mixture of mysterious melody with a tinge of 30's soft jazz and rhythm & blues.
The DVD contains a few notable extras which adds further value to a 3 hour film that will easily be had for under $20 online. Apart from the theatrical trailer and cast bios & filmographies (of which exist for only about six of the 15-20 listed names, including: Tom Hanks, Stephen King, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse, Director Frank Darabont), there is a 10 minute behind-the-scenes featurette that offers a glimpse into the making of the film and interviews with some of the key cast and crew members. All of this is found within a series of still and animated menus created to enhance the navigation experience. A fan of any element present in this film will most likely benefit with the addition of this DVD to their collection.
The Green Mile is director Frank Darabont's third collaboration with the works of Stephen King, his last being Shawshank Redemption, another popular prison film with Tim Robbins and Morgran Freeman. The quality of the storytelling in this film is no different. The acting is superb with extended kudos going out to the performance of Michael Clarke Duncan [as John Coffey] who may unfortunately never get, to no fault of his own, another role as profound as the one he conquered in this film [i.e. Whole Nine Yards, etc.]. There is no weak point in this cast and even the characters you come to hate bring out this emotion in the viewer with remarkable stamina. The Green Mile is fertile with strong characters and unsaid words of wisdom. This film allows us to sit back and recognize the good things in life and then only partially grasp the terrible reality that a man's confinement in a prison during his wait for death along the green mile, might just be a sanctuary of peace and a means of escape from the sinister truth that lies throughout the barren lands of the surrounding world and the horrific potentials of a damaged human spirt. Ironic, isn't it?