The Green Mile
Essay title: The Green Mile
The Green Mile
Frank Darabont (writer-director-producer) in 1999, returned to the director’s chair for the first time in five years. Darabont, who not only directed Shawshank Redemption, but adapted it from a Stephen King story, followed the exact same path with The Green Mile. The film was released by Warner Bros. Pictures, and Produced by Castle Rock Entertainment, Darkwoods Productions, and Warner Bros. David Valdes is the producer, David Tattersall, B.S.C. is the director of photography, Terence Marsh is the production designer, and Richard Francis-Bruce is the film editor.
Thomas Newman is the composer of The Green Mile, who has had the distinct honor of collecting his first two Academy Award nominations for Best Dramatic Score in the same year. He competed against himself as the only double nominee in 1994 for both The Shawshank Redemption and Gillian Armstrong’s Little Women. He received a third Oscar nod for his work on Diane Keaton’s “Unstrung Heroes,” and also earned Grammy nominations for “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Unstrung Heroes.”
Born in Los Angeles, Newman is a member of one of Hollywood’s most esteemed musical families. His father, film composer Alfred Newman (All About Eve, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Hunchback of Notre Dame), won nine Academy Awards (out of 45 nominations). His uncles are renowned film-score artists Emil and Lionel Newman (Oscar-winner for Hello, Dolly!). His cousin, also a multi-Oscar nominee, is singer-songwriter Randy Newman (The Natural), and brother David is also a busy film composer (The War of the Roses).
Newman studied composition at USC with professor Frederick Lesemann and noted film composer David Raksin. He later completed his academic work at Yale University under the tutelage of Jacob Druckman, Bruce MacCombie and Robert Moore. Newman, who composed his first film score at age 29, counts among his most recent film credits American Beauty, Meet Joe Black, The Horse Whisperer, Oscar and Lucinda, Mad City, American Buffalo, Red Corner and Up Close and Personal.
The Green Mile is one of Stephen King’s best works, which all take place in prisons. The films title refers to the pristine green floors of Cold Mountain Penitentiary, a Deep South, Depression-era prison. The film stars Tom Hanks as prison warder Paul Edgcomb, in charge of the death row (nicknamed “the green mile”) at a southern penitentiary in 1930s Alabama. Along with his colleagues Brutal Howell (David Morse), Dean Stanton (Barry Pepper), Harry Terwiliger (Jeffrey De Munn) and sadistic Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison), Edgcomb is a firm but fair jailer, ensuring that the prisoners in his care are properly prepared for their time of execution. Into their midst comes John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), a mountainous but child-like black man, convicted of murdering two small children, but whose demeanour leads Edgcomb to believe that Coffey is innocent. For a while, life on the green mile remains normal, until the day it transpires that Coffey possesses the ability to heal people through the power of touch.
The Green Mile is a 3-hour film of two halves: firstly, painting a vivid portrait of life on death row, and the trivialities that brighten up the lives of the people who live and die there. The second half of the movie is given to exploring Coffey himself: his past, his crime, and his powers. He is initially misunderstood by those around him, is convicted of a crime he did not commit, he greatly enriches the lives of those around him, and is eventually executed for refusing to proclaim his own innocence.
Much of Thomas Newman’s music is rooted in the sounds of the deep south, with several interesting cues written for an eclectic ensemble including such weird and wonderful instruments as a bowed travelling guitar, a Vietnamese banjo, a jaw harp, bass marimbas, a tonut and the omnipresent saz. Occasionally, the music attains a kind of hypnotic sensibility that draws the listener in, but at other times it presents a set of fascinating rhythms and textures.
Thomas Newman’s working style, is not only his most typical, but his best writing style. The music contained on the 75-minute CD strongly shouts elements from both The Shawshank Redemption and The Horse Whisperer, two previous scores by Thomas Newman, which show his excellent style. Many sections of the score are performed by swells of lush strings. Newman also introduces a “playful” theme, complete with Shawshank-style pizzicato strings and oboes floating around, which creates a playful mood. One thing Newman does greatly is to create very intense suspenseful music. He uses a snare drum to create a tense mood. And it works greatly along with the pulsating of the small orchestra. Newman creates strange noises with