MIRACLES HAPPEN IN THE MOST UNEXPECTED PLACES.
In 1935, Louisiana prison guard Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) discovers that one of the men on death row, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), has special gifts and starts thinking that maybe he’s innocent. Director Frank Darabont makes another trip to the well that brought us the successful Shawshank Redemption (1994). Fans of Stephen King and the director will recognize the set-up; the setting is a prison some time ago, there’s another thoroughly evil antagonist and the supernatural plays a key part. Episodic in style, the director nevertheless creates a cohesive and very involving narrative, although the film begins to drag a bit after two hours. Terrific performances boost the story.
1999-U.S. 188 min. Color. Produced by Frank Darabont, David Valdes. Written and directed by Frank Darabont. Novel: Stephen King. Cast: Tom Hanks (Paul Edgecomb), David Morse (Brutus ”Brutal” Howell), Bonnie Hunt (Jan Edgecomb), Michael Clarke Duncan (John Coffey), James Cromwell, Michael Jeter… Sam Rockwell, Harry Dean Stanton, Gary Sinise.
Trivia: John Travolta was allegedly considered for the part of Paul.
Last word: “Length is an artificial and arbitrary factor in a film. It certainly hasn’t hurt the audience that has seen the movie. There was obviously a concern, because nobody sets out to make a three-hour movie. Nobody particularly wants that; certainly the studio didn’t want that. But I think a film has its own organic need to be whatever length it needs, whether it’s eighty-five minutes or three hours. Once we test screened it the first time, any argument from the studio regarding length just evaporated, because the audience was riveted to this thing every moment, which was a great relief to me as well. It proved that I wasn’t crazy, that this story that Stephen King had written was this compelling.” (Darabont, Mania)