Movie Versions of The Green Mile the Essay

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movie versions of "The Green Mile"

The Green Mile" is a six-part serial novel by Stephen King, an acclaimed novelist known for his themes of suspense, thriller, and the supernatural. The novel uses Paul Edgecombe, the chief prison guard of Cold Mountain Penitentiary, as the chief narrator of the story. He talks about his life as a prison guard during the Great Depression years, specifically during the year 1932, a year when he met John Coffey, a black American convicted for raping and killing two young girls. Edgecombe shares how his life (and belief) has changed tremendously when he met this particular man, most especially when a "miracle," a supernatural thing that happened to Edgecombe, making him doubt whether Coffey was indeed capable of murder or not. The novel also includes numerous characters that takes the novel an interesting turn, starting from Edgecombe's friends, also prison guards in Cold Mountain, the convicts at E. block, Mr. Jingles, and finally, to Elaine Conelly and Brad Dolan two characters that represents the present time of the novel. "The Green Mile" is basically Edgecombe's personal account of everything that happened during that tumultuous year of 1932, where people do not only experience strife because of the Depression, but also the strain and tension between white Americans and the newly- liberated Negro race, which, although not given much attention/focus in the book, plays an important theme since Coffey's being a black American became one crucial reason why he can't be easily pardoned or ask for a re-trial (when Edgecombe discovered the truth about the supposed rape and murder Coffey had committed). In addition, the novel was also a reflection of Edgecombe's changing view with capital punishment; wherein the punishment for convicted criminals was met through electrocution. The novel also deals with the question of one's belief in miracles and life creation, since Coffey has this extraordinary gift of healing and life, which, apparently, is in direct contrast with the setting of the story. It focuses on the themes of destruction and creation, where people condemned Coffey to die because of the crime that he committed (without them knowing that he actually attempted to save the victims), and Coffey being the life- giver, possessing the ability to help people recover and be cured from their illness, and even death (although it was too late for him to save the Detterick twins).

The novel "The Green Mile" was also made into a movie, with Tom Hanks playing the character of Paul Edgecombe, and Michael Duncan playing the role of John Coffey. Frank Darabont directed the movie, a full three hours and ten minutes (3 hrs. And 10 mins.) of an adaptation of the novel. The movie was lengthy, since Darabont tried to squeeze in most of the details of the story the best he could, and for three full hours, there have been changes that were made so that the movie can be enduring for the viewers, yet, will not lose its original content, for the sake of those who have read the book first before watching the movie. This paper will discuss the changes and alterations that were made in the movie version of "The Green Mile," and analyze why these parts were not included, and if these changes were necessary and helpful in the development of the film. The texts that will follow in this paper are examples taken from both the book and movie version of "The Green Mile," which will be analyzed through a careful compare and contrast of the story in both media (book and film).

The firs thing that the viewers (that is, those who have read the novel before watching the movie version of the story) will notice is the change of time period where the story started. In the novel, King started the story with Edgecombe narrating his life as superintendent of the E. block in Cold Mountain, and in the process, introduces the different characters (mostly the convicts and "Old Sparky," the well-known electric chair in E. block). However, the film version started with the scene of the day the Detterick family and the police found John Coffey carrying the two dead girls in his arms, crying. This scene was probably placed in the first part of the story because the viewers might get confused with flashbacks, and may not go very well with the flow of the story.

Edgecombe's character was introduced in the film in the second scene, wherein the viewers see him as an old man already. This was radically different with the book's style, since King did not mention anything about Edgecombe's being in a nursing home until in the first chapter of the second part of the novel. In the movie, Darabont (the director) made his film as "clean-cut" as possible, using flashbacks to the minimum and chronicled the events in the movie in an orderly way. In fact, Darabont did not dwell so much about Edgecombe's life in the nursing home, and focused entirely on Edgecombe's full narration of the events that happened to him when he was chief prison guard of the E. block in Cold Mountain. King, meanwhile, used a lot of time changes, shifting from the present (Edgecombe in a nursing home, already an old man writing and recalling his experiences during the year 1932), to the past (life as a prison guard in 1932).

There are also several characters missing in the novel; particularly that of Brad Dolan, and a convict nicknamed "The President." Brad Dolan was an important character in the novel, but he was not included in the movie. Dolan is essential in building-up King's story because Edgecombes sees a parallelism of character and behavior between Dolan and Percy Wetmore, a detested young prison guard in E. block because of his abusive and vain attitude. Both men love to inflict pain and hurt on others. Dolan, an orderly at Georgia Pines, like hurting Edgecombe physically, taking advantage of the fact that he is already an old, weak man. Edgecombe remembers Wetmore whenever Dolan abuses or taunts him, and upon remembering Wetmore, he also remembers a whole lot of events that will link him again to the past. A convict nicknamed "The President" was also included in the novel, although his character was not included in the movie because his presence is of no significance to the flow of the story, save for the fact that King included his character to add a variety of characters in his story. In fact, his presence in the novel was short-lived. His sentence was reduced to life imprisonment, and nothing much was said about him, except for the news of his death by drowning (in a liquid washer).

Several scenes from the movie were also shortened to accommodate more time to more important scenes. Like the scene wherein Edgecombe and Ed Lacroix talked about Mr. Jingles' (Lacroix's pet mouse) future. Instead of treating these two scenes as separate ones (just like in the novel), Darabont fused the two events into one. These events are the scenes wherein Edgecombe and Lacroix talked about Mr. Jingles, and the one with Brutal suggesting that Mr. Jingles be put to Mouseville, a special place for a "talented mouse" like Mr. Jingles. Darabont's fusion of these two separate events made it more convenient for Darabont to make (since it is a time- saver) and for the audience (for its conciseness). Fusion of separate scenes became staple for the movie since a three-hour movie tends to waver the audience's attention, which is short-spanned.

One of the major changes that totally differentiate the book from the movie is the time period that King and Darabont used to narrate the story. King treated the story into two time frames, the present and the past, but with alternating use of each. For example, King would again turn the story into the present time, wherein old Edgecombe would give the readers a glimpse of his life as an old man fighting old age in Georgia Pines. His one way of fighting old age and memory deterioration is through writing. Most of what he has written was all about his life at Cold Mountain, most especially Coffey and his extraordinary gift of healing and life. Remembering his past, Edgecombe feels the urge to recall everything that happened in his past life exactly as it occurred; and when he recalls those memories, he will then write about it. Thus, the readers are transported again to a young Edgecombe at Cold Mountain, and events of the past will again be remembered and told.

The movie ended with Edgecombe finally speaking about his reflections regarding his experience in Cold Mountain with John Coffey, and one final shot of Mr. Jingles, now an aging mouse, gives the viewers one final 'contact' with Edgecombe's past. The book, meanwhile, ended also with Edgecombe's reflections of what happened in 1932, before John Coffey's death by electrocution. However, King let us know what happened to Janice,…

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