The Green Mile Plot Summary

In 1999, at a Louisiana assisted-living home, retiree Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) becomes emotional while watching the film Top Hat. His friend, Elaine (Eve Brent), grows concerned, prompting Paul to explain that the film has revived memories from his time as an officer at Cold Mountain Penitentiary’s death row, colloquially known as “The Green Mile.”

The Green Mile in 1935

Back in 1935, Paul supervised Corrections Officers Brutus “Brutal” Howell (David Morse), Dean Stanton (Barry Pepper), Harry Terwilliger (Jeffrey DeMunn), and Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison), under Warden Hal Moores (James Cromwell). Percy, the nephew of the state governor’s wife, uses his connections to evade accountability for his sadistic behavior, especially towards prisoner Eduard “Del” Delacroix (Michael Jeter), even going so far as to kill Del’s pet mouse, Mr. Jingles.

Arrival of John Coffey

John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), a physically imposing yet gentle black man, is introduced to Paul. John has been sentenced to death after being convicted of raping and murdering two young white girls. He joins Del and another condemned convict, Arlen Bitterbuck (Graham Greene), on the Green Mile. The officers also have to deal with the psychotic new inmate, William “Wild Bill” Wharton (Sam Rockwell), who frequently causes trouble.

John’s Miraculous Abilities

John’s touch heals Paul’s severe bladder infection, and he later resurrects Mr. Jingles. These miraculous deeds lead Paul to believe that John has a supernatural ability to heal others, and he begins to doubt John’s guilt.

Del’s Execution and Aftermath

In exchange for resigning from the penitentiary and accepting a job at an insane asylum, Percy is allowed to oversee Del’s execution. However, Percy deliberately botches the execution, causing Del to suffer a gruesome death. Paul and the other officers retaliate by locking Percy in the padded cell for a night. While Percy is locked away, they secretly take John out of the prison to heal Warden Moores’ wife Melinda (Patricia Clarkson) of a brain tumor.

The Real Culprit Revealed

John uses his powers to transfer Melinda’s affliction to Percy, who, in a state of confusion, kills Wild Bill. John then reveals to Paul, through a vision, that Wild Bill was the actual perpetrator of the crimes he was wrongfully accused of. Post this revelation, Percy, suffering from a mental breakdown, is committed to the same insane asylum where he had planned to work.

John Coffey’s Execution

Despite now knowing that John is innocent, Paul is distressed at the thought of executing him. However, John views his impending execution as a mercy, as he is pained by the world’s cruelty. For his last request, he watches Top Hat with the other officers. Despite his innocence, John is scorned by the spectators during his execution, a heart-wrenching scene that the officers witness, barely holding back their tears.

A Supernaturally Long Life

Returning to the present, Paul tells Elaine that John’s execution was his and Brutal’s last, as they resigned from the prison afterward and took jobs in the juvenile system. Paul reveals that Mr. Jingles is still alive, having been blessed with an extraordinarily long life by John’s healing touch. He also reveals that he is now 108 years old. While Elaine views Paul’s long life as another of John’s miracles, Paul speculates that it might be a divine punishment for executing John. The narrative ends with Paul revealing that he is attending Elaine’s funeral, reflecting on the longevity of his life. Paul muses on the potential divine punishment he is enduring – a life extended to an unnatural length, forcing him to outlive his loved ones due to his role in John’s execution. He contemplates the remaining years he has to live, bearing the weight of his past actions and the loss of those he has cared for. The story serves as a testament to the complicated nature of justice, the existence of supernatural miracles, and the profound effects of one’s actions throughout their life.

Movie Review

“The Green Mile” is a 1999 American fantasy crime drama film directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, and David Morse. The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King and tells the story of a death row corrections officer in the 1930s who develops a relationship with a prisoner with supernatural abilities.

The film is a powerful work of American cinema, with its exploration of justice, morality, and human connection resonating with audiences. Its use of supernatural elements, masterful performances, and expertly crafted storytelling make it a classic of the crime drama genre and a must-watch for any fan of cinematic history.

The film’s visual style, from its use of lighting and color to its unconventional camera angles and framing, is masterfully executed, creating a unique and immersive cinematic experience. The use of supernatural elements adds to the film’s sense of mystery and wonder, allowing the audience to experience the story in a deeply emotional way.

The movie’s screenplay, written by Darabont, is a classic example of unconventional storytelling techniques which serve to keep the audience on their toes, never quite sure what will happen next. The film’s exploration of morality and justice is insightful and entertaining, with its commentary on the nature of humanity and the consequences of our actions resonating with audiences.

The characters are complex and well-rounded, with their motivations and personalities evolving throughout the movie. The film’s exploration of the human condition and the fragility of life is an example of complex and nuanced character development that adds emotional depth to the story. The film’s use of music is also noteworthy, with its haunting and emotional score by Thomas Newman adding to the film’s overall sense of atmosphere and emotion.