The Movie: The Green Mile-1999
THE GREEN MILE
In September 1999 I moved into a house beside a river in a small town in Tasmania facing as it did one of the many extensions of the Great Southern Ocean, the Bass Strait. I could see a small sliver of the ocean from my dining-room window and I could walk down to the river’s edge, the Tamar, about 20 yards from the end of my backyard. I had taken a sea-change as they sometimes call a type of shift in one’s employment, in one’s activity base and one’s residence in the evening of one’s life. I was 55 back when I started this new stage, this new phase, of my life. Three months later, in December 1999, a movie entitled The Green Mile was released. I did not see the movie until this week, but was moved to write this prose-poem as a result.
The movie was based on Stephen King’s 1996 novel by the same name. Cynicism and hope tend to win out over any idealism in King’s books and this is true of the movies based on his writing. The Greek tradition, a tradition in which I firmly place King even if he is not aware of the long history of the philosophy which his work expresses, tends in our age to triumph over the Hebraic tradition and its several Abrahamic religions. There is a profound sadness at the base of the Greek tradition; so is this true of what is at the base of the religions of revelation---but there is so much more. King does not enjoy the wellspring of idealism and optimism found in the Abrahamic religions. This is not surprising given the massive sectarian tendencies and the rise of fundamentalism in these same religions. People like King are not attracted to them or even their more liberal forms.
Humanism, with its roots in the West in the classical tradition, is now found in so many of its contemporary expressions as a philosophy founded “upon the desiccated carcass of religion.”1 At least so some argue. Novels and movies, like the ones that grow out of the mind of Stephen King, show the reality of that carcass with its vague and embattled nostalgia for love and morality. I could not help but feel this sadness in The Green Mile which I watched this week, eleven years after the movie was first released.2-Ron Price with thanks to 1Frederick Glaysher, “Re-Centering: the Turning of the Tide and Robert Hayden,” World Order, Summer ‘83, NSA of the Baha’is of the USA, p.11 & 2 ABC1 TV, 23 October 2010.
As you say, Stephen, you can’t
get away from horror,1 but you
write what you like imbuing the
chapters, paragraphs, sentences
with your personal knowledge,
your life & your work especially
your work. Thanks, Stephen for
your advice On Writing, thanks!!2
1 Stephen King in Faces of Fear by Douglas E. Winter, 1990.
2 See Stephen King, On Writing, 2000.
28 October 2010