Based on a serial novella by Stephen King, the Green Mile is the best adaption of King’s work. The film faithfully follows the book, by using flashbacks to tell the story of John Coffee and the miraculous year of 1935. It was directed by Frank Darabont, who previously teamed with King on the Shawshank Redemption. Darabont also wrote the screenplay for the Green Mile, turning the 400 pages, six-volume tome into the brilliant three-hour movie we have today.
We are introduced to Paul Edgecombe as he awakes from a nightmare. Presumably the same nightmare he’s been having for decades. He’s haunted by his past, and the things he’s seen and done. One afternoon while watching television in the family room of the retirement home he is living in, and the old show brings back a flood of memories he wishes he could forget. He leaves the room in tears and his close friend, Elaine Connelly follows. They withdraw to a private room where he precedes to tell her the story of John Coffee and the two dead girls.
Stephen King is often labeled a “horror” writer. And sure, it’s with good reason as he is the man who brought us the Shinning and Storm of the Century. However, he has quite a knack for dramatic storytelling. Sure, the Green Mile has plenty of supernatural elements in it, however, it’s much more of a story about the men who come into contact with Coffee.
King and Darabont make several allusions to Coffee as a Christ-like figure. His name is John Coffee (J.C.). He is sacrificed for crimes he did not commit. He has an incredible ability to heal and to raise the dead. Despite all these obvious implications, the movie does not push this view on anyone, it’s only something you would notice from watching it closely.
Unfortunately for the Green Mile, 1999 was a remarkable year for films. It was nominated for several Oscars, including best picture. But as a result of the daunting competition, it lost to American Beauty.