Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Green Mile

A movie that offers so much for reflection.

Time and again, the history of humanity is filled with people who have inflicted hurt and death over other people, often for no good or trivial reasons. The incidents become more painful when the victims are innocent people. The pain becomes most acute when the victim blesses the aggressor with compassion (John Coffee).

The story is set in Louisiana during the 1935’s, when death sentences were carried out using an electric chair. The movie is uncompromising when it comes to displaying the details of the execution. Watching these scenes unfold raises several questions. Do we need to enforce the death sentence as capital punishment? Would “justice” be done with this act? Even so, is the method of execution considerate of the mental suffering undergone by the person being executed? In the US, the sentence is now carried out using poison instead of electric chairs. But yet, it is very humiliating to watch the execution carried out by staging it in front of an audience as a way of meting out “justice”.

Tom Hanks has a way of adding dignity to any character he plays - be it the portrayal of innocent Forrest (“Forrest Gump”), a HIV infected homosexual (“Philadelphia”) or a conscientious prison guard (this movie). All characters are neatly crafted in this powerhouse of a movie. The movie never deters from its focus, and neither does it compromise on the details, however painful or uncomfortable the situation (the execution of Eduard Delacroix for example).

One question that rings out very resoundingly at the end of the movie is – “Why are people so ugly towards each other?”

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