Angels

Humanity craves revenge. It’s a food for those wronged, a method of making tragedy righteous. Sentenced to death in The Green Mile, an audience cheers men being placed in the electric chair. They hope it hurts; one wishes for the convicted to be killed twice.

Those onlookers didn’t live with the condemned – the prison guards did. Green Mile is death row told from their perspective, their challenges, their trials, their need for empathy. Every man in their care carries with them a date, a known eventuality. Those guards learn about the people, not just the murderer. The reasons for their actions are unknown. In some cases, even the crime goes unspoken; Green Mile makes a case for sympathy, even for the worst of us.

Green Mile isn’t exploitative with its magical realism, rather challenging the notion of innocence

Green Mile isn’t shy in its religious parables. John Coffey’s (Michael Clarke Duncan) soft voice and calming kindness carries a Christ-like veneer – judged by his actions and looks. He’s imposing, and also a miracle producer, yet accused of murdering two children.

In their time with Coffey, the guards do their jobs as professionals. This was their calling, and they accept it. Through conversation, Green Mile does more than admonish the death penalty (gruesomely depicting multiple carried out sentences), but puts a face to those doomed to sit in the wooden chair as citizens watch with near glee.

By rule, those nearing their final moments have their faces covered. Maybe that’s humane, or maybe just morbid lawmaking. Much as the gathered crowds jeer the convicts, they’re not allowed to look them in the eye as electricity flows. It’s cowardice.

Coffey is a genuine man, but drawing racial parallels and set during the Depression, he never stood a chance. Neither did Eduard (Michael Jeter) though, a kindly older man who finds peace with a mouse. But, Green Mile isn’t exploitative with its magical realism, rather challenging the notion of innocence and whether modern society would kill a man capable of curing cancer purely for their own self-satisfaction. Coffey isn’t Jesus, not directly so, but undoubtedly a man who, through whatever his ability, controls fate. Or worse, feels it, whether giving or losing life.

Locked to a mere hallway, Green Mile forces understanding. No one has anywhere else to go, so they listen. It’s a wonder if those who angrily shout at those on death row, they might feel differently when confined in the same way. Faces sometimes speak more than a voice, and when confronting sorrowful, mournful eyes, attitudes can often change.

Video

At times exquisite, Green Mile’s HDR pass glitters. Darker cinematography allows the light sources to blossom, whether it’s interior electric bulbs or exterior sun bleeding in through windows. Intensity stays high, truly spectacular and using the format to its max. Likewise, shadows rush toward pure black, while nuanced enough to avoid crush.

Only a thin veneer of grain sits over the imagery. Although a major studio production undoubtedly using a high-end stock, it’s unusually light. Given the softness in wide (even medium) shots, Warner potentially employed a mild filter. In close, there are no signs that resolution is pinched. The detail explodes. Facial texture looks incredible, helped by a heated aesthetic, keeping characters sweaty.

That warmth follows into the color palette, glazing Green Mile in dense amber hues. It’s restrictive by design, but attractive. The few primaries that do slip out display a grand boldness. Nightfall introduces opposing blues with the same natural crispness.

Audio

An effortlessly spacious Dolby Atmos track isn’t a mix full of bluster and bang, but it’s a sensational, moody, and atmospheric example. Empty prison interiors spread wide, the clang from metal bars stretched into each channel. Footsteps bounce around, echoing off concrete. Rain and thunder rebound flawlessly. This includes the heights.

Thanks to a beefy score, the subwoofer gains bounce. Rumbling isn’t frequent, but every dramatic low makes an impression. Range doesn’t limit itself. Electric chair deaths bring a massive, room-rumbling, sustained jolt as the generator kicks in full.

Extras

The UHD holds Frank Darabont’s commentary, while the Blu-ray matches the previous disc release. That includes deleted scenes, a making-of documentary, featurettes, make-up tests, Duncan’s screen test, and a unique look at how the teaser trailer came together.

The Green Mile
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

Confined to a prison ward, The Green Mile brilliantly explores life, empathy, revenge, and religious beliefs through its genuine characters.

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User Review
3.67 (3 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 66 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: