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THE GREEN MILE ($25) is as close to perfect as any movie is going to be without taking home the Academy Award for Best Picture in the year it was nominated. Some will complain about the filmís three-hour length, as well as the slow pacing that is maintained throughout. However, neither was of any concern to this reviewer, who found every moment of the film to be rewarding. THE GREEN MILE is beautifully written and directed movie that features superb performances from a sublime ensemble cast. Although it is set in a death-row prison cellblock during the depression, THE GREEN MILE is a surprisingly joyous and uplifting movie. THE GREEN MILE is based upon the Stephen King novel and was adapted for the screen by director Frank Darabont. Darabontís enormously success his directorial debut, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION was also adapted from a King story, which is probably why he chose THE GREEN MILE as a follow-up project.

I hate to say too much about the plot of THE GREEN MILE because the less one knows about the film; the more one will enjoy watching its story unfold. However, I do have to give one a rough idea what the film is about. In THE GREEN MILE, Tom Hanks portrays Paul Edgecomb, the prison guard in charge of death row. Edgecomb is a compassionate man, who maintains the dignity of the prisoners awaiting execution, thus having very few problems on his watch. Edgecombís life and the lives of everyone in the cellblock are forever changed with the arrival of a hulking prisoner named John Coffey (Academy Award nominee Michael Clarke Duncan). Hopefully, I have said less about THE GREEN MILE than what one may have gleamed from the filmís theatrical trailer or TV spots, since it is best to experience the story without any preconceived notions. In addition to Hanks and Duncan, the sterling cast of THE GREEN MILE also features David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, James Cromwell, Michael Jeter, Graham Greene, Sam Rockwell, Doug Hutchison, Barry Pepper, Patricia Clarkson, Jeffrey DeMunn, Harry Dean Stanton, Dabbs Greer, Eve Brent, William Sadler and Gary Sinise.

Warner Home Video has done a beautiful job with their DVD edition of THE GREEN MILE. The single sided, dual layered DVD offers the film in its proper 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio, plus the presentation has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Image quality on this DVD is as perfect as can be under the NTSC system. Everything appears crisp, crystal clear and finely detailed. Flesh tones are very appealing, while the rest of the colors are rich and flawlessly rendered. Blacks are a deep inky black and the picture displays an impressive level of shadow detail. Film grain is virtually undetectable and there are no traces of digital compression artifacts to diminish this marvelous presentation.

THE GREEN MILE features an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack that is an exercise in subtlety. There are no real sonic assaults nor is there anything here that will challenge sound systemís playback abilities. The sound designers succeed in creating transparent sonic environments that convey a feeling of reality. There is a wonderful sense of atmosphere surrounding the viewer, yet it never distracts one from the images on the screen. Sound effects take advantage of the discrete nature of the format and are precisely placed within the soundstage. Dialogue is fully intelligible and the actorsí voices resonate quite naturally. Thomas Newmanís musical score is well recorded and mixed in such a way that it perfectly complements the filmís visuals, without overwhelming them. Subtitles have been encoded onto the DVD in English and French.

The interactive menus contain a bit of animation and sound, making them a step above the ordinary. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features. Due to the filmís length, I doubt there was much room left on the DVD for supplements, but Warner did manage to shoehorn in a couple of extras. Walking The Mile is a ten-minute featurette that offers a brief look at the filmís production and includes interviews with some of the principals, as well as author Stephen King. A theatrical trailer and select biographies/filmographies fill out the extras.

THE GREEN MILE is a wonderful movie that looks and sounds great on DVD. Anyone even remotely interested in the movie canít go wrong by picking up a copy of the disc. Highly recommended.


The Green Mile



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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