Characters, Theme and Cinematic Devices in Movie "The Green Mile"
Table of contents
The award-winning movie is based on one of Stephen King’s 1996 novel of the same name. We follow a retired prison guard by the name Paul Edgecomb from the death row. He is 104 and looking back at his job in a Death row guards at a prison on Cold Mountain Penitentiary in the south states of America In the 1930s, has a moral dilemma with their job when they discover one of their prisoners, a convicted murderer, has a special gift.
Genre, Settings & Structure
The genre of the film falls easily into the category of crime/fantasy, by the reason that we are constantly surrounded by danger in the way that the guards are always looking behind their backs. The drama steps in when we get to learn the story about Coffey, Wharton, Eduard and the other inmates. The fantasy or supernatural you could say, appears when we learn about Coffey’s gift/curse and the strange things that occurs thorough the film.
Conflicts of the Film
This movie holds many conflicts to it in the way that each characters has their own battles. Take for instance John Coffee, who’s accused of killing two innocent little girls. He knows he has not touched a strand of hair on their head, but his appearance draws to much attention for anyone to really see beyond that, except Paul.
Society vs Individual:
- William Wharton Is a conflict in himself, creating large oppsticals and problems for the officers at the prison.
- The society judges not John by his false crime, but by the color of his skin.
- There is a lot of references to mental hospital as well as cancer, bladder infection and so one.
John Coffey has the physical strength to kill someone, but not the demeanor. This interferes with humans basic instinct of judging someone by their appearance. Beyond his simple, naïve nature and deathly fear of the dark, Coffey seems to possess a prodigious, supernatural gift.
John Coffey is a static character in the way that he always felt bad about what he had been accused of, which is killing two small girls, even though he never did it. He shows his caring nature by the way he treats the officers. His mysterious but healing powers are able to cure those who are inflicted by pain. Even though it means he has to endure it himself. In the end he is just an misunderstood man, who keeps on suffering to the very end. Just before he is about to get electrocuted in the chair he says to the warden “sorry for what I am”.
Paul Edgecombe is the storyteller of the movie, in the way that the movie starts of with him looking back at his past life at an asylum for the elderly. He is the most likeable of all the officers at prison. We can tell by the way he humanizes John and treats the people around him the way he himself wants to be treated. Paul is a dynamic character because at the very start of the story, he never truly had a heart for the inmates. They were simply criminals who had broken the law. However, that is forever changed when he meets John Coffey. They form a bond which Paul carries with him until he takes his very last breath at the end of the movie.
William Wharton, going by the nickname Billy The Kid, is a wild-acting and madman who enjoys to hurt, mistreat and annoy those around him. Being the killer of the two little girls, which John has been accused of, it is first revealed at the end just seconds before John Coffey get killed in the electric chair. The way he has so little left for the world, makes you wonder if someone could really be that cruel. William Wharton is a static character in the way that he constantly terrorizes and causes trouble on the Mile. Only for it to lead him to his death, getting shot by one of the officers.
Narrator Point of View
Green Mile has a linear narrative structure to the plot. This we can see because it goes from beginning to end using flashbacks to help tell the story. With an old Paul Edgecomb looking back and writing about his life. Creating a more intimate story that seems as real as possible for the audience.
The main theme of the film is death. When we take a closer look into the plot, It reveals a deeper meaning than men dying in electrical chairs for their crimes. “and I think about all of us. Walking our own green mile; each in our own time” Paul says in one of the scenes. The guards are constantly witnesses to it when they have to put someone in the chair. However, by the looks on their faces, they have gotten used to it. And I don’t think it is because they are monsters and don’t care. But because they themselves are going home in the evening and live on with their own life. It’s a way of surviving.
It is almost as clear as day that when Coffey is brought in to the prison, you did not need to look twice to know that he had committed a crime. By this I mean the color of his skin. Paul knew that even if there would have been evidence that would have proven his innocence, it would be to no good. The word baboon and other racist slurs is thrown around, making my point clear.
This movie is set in the 1930, just when the great depression took place. The rate of crime committed during that time was shooting through the roof do to people’s desperation after money and food to provide for themselves. The use of the electric chair came as early as 1800s and is only used in a few southern states in the U.S. However, it has been made more aver of it now.
As a society, we’re fixated on suffering and prejudice. The fact the prison sees John’s gift to heal others, John sees as a curse even as he helps purge the unclean elements of the prison. Despite “indirectly” killing whoever was really responsible for the little girls’ murders and taking care of a problematic guard, John is resigned to his fate and wants to die.
The godlike healing powers of John is haunting the movie and the only hope for anyone who is suffering. It gives the movie a sense of hope in an environment that is doomed to incarcerate humans and shattering lifes.
- In the movie, light has a soul purpose. When John does one of his miracles on one of the characters in the movie, the lights goes crazy. Usually they will flair, like when he healed Paul’s bladder infection that he had been struggling with for a while.
- Making the question surrounding the supernatural and god more individual for each of the characters.
- Showing by their swarthy for heads and soaked shirt, the conditions of the 1930s is not pretty.
- The long corridors emphasizes that it is the long green mile, that every character is individually walking their path on.
I myself have been a huge fan of this film since I have been maybe 8-10 years old. I’m not gone lie and say I did think John Coffey seemed scary, but it was nice to see my ignorant beliefs get changed when we got to know the character. It doesn’t only tell a great story, but makes one think if every one who is in prison is there for the right reason. I would really recommend this movie to anyone who appreciate a good cinematic experience and an original plot. As well as an historical, look of the 1930s Southside of America.
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