The Green Mile
Two Disc Special Edition

Starring: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse, Gary Sinise, Bonnie Hunt and James Cromwell
Warner Home Video
RRP: 15.99
D 070597
Certificate: 18
Available 30 October 2006

Tom Hanks plays Paul Edgecomb, one of a handful of guards running a deep south cell block for prisoners on death row. One such prisoner is John Coffey, a large and powerful man who has been convicted of raping and murdering two young girls. He was even caught crying over the two bodies, repeating, "I tried to take it back but I couldn't!" But Coffey doesn't seem like much of a threat at all, and a fellow prison guard proves more of a problem to Paul. When Coffey mysteriously cures Paul of a severe bladder infection by drawing out the corruption, the guards are amazed to learn the prisoner possesses healing powers. Surely God would not allow a miracle to be carried by such an evil creature. As the days count down to death by electric chair, Paul begins to doubt this simple man in his midst is capable of what he stands accused...

In my opinion, the stories of Stephen King work much better on film than they do on the printed page (hold back on the lynch mob!), and even many of those fail to impress. Two success stories are The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Not only are these both prison dramas, but they are directed by the same man, Frank Darabont. Darabont took a big chance taking on a second King adaptation and a second prison setting, but King had reportedly contacted him after being impressed with the man's directorial debut, which had been nominated for seven Academy Awards.

It was a good decision, because Darabont knows how to flesh-out strong characters for the big screen. We laugh with them, we cry with them, and we are persuaded to sympathise with every hiccup they experience. Tom Hanks is, of course, a talented and versatile actor, and all performances in The Green Mile are strong. However, it is Michael Clarke Duncan's excellent portrayal of John Coffey who really steals the show. Duncan was a novice in 1999 when Darabont took a chance on casting him, but he was fully justified. No wonder the man was nominated for an Academy Award.

The three-hour story is split over the two discs in this set. To most people this will, on the surface, seem like an incredibly long film - even by today's standards. Let me tell you, you will care so much about what is transpiring on-screen that those 180 minutes will go by in a flash. It is even more suited to the medium of DVD, because it means you can take a toilet break or make a cup of tea without missing any of this magical tale... and you wouldn't want to miss a moment.

Stephen King is best known for horror; that goes without saying. The Green Mile is one of a few books from his back catalogue which is quite different. This is not in any sense a horror story; in fact, I wouldn't even call it a fantasy - although it does dip a big toe into that territory. No, to my mind this is a character-driven "people story", and a damn fine one at that.

Special features include: a commentary by Frank Darabont; Deleted Scenes with optional commentary; Michael Clarke Duncan's Screen Test; Walking The Mile: The Making of The Green Mile; and Miracles and Mystery (Creating The Green Mile), which comprises the following featurettes: Stephen King - Storyteller; The Art of Adaptation; Acting on the Mile; Designing The Mile; The Magic of The Mile; and The Tail of Mr Jingles (the talented mouse). To avid Stephen King fans this lovingly assembled 2-disc set will undoubtedly be seen as the perfect release.

Ty Power

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