Face-Off: The Green Mile vs. The Shawshank Redemption

Welcome back, you debaucherous band of scally-wags! This is the Face-Off, the most brutal contest of cinematic champions on the net, and there's no doubt we could all get locked up for what we're doing here. I've seen guys get some serious time for doing less than what we do here every session, and if you didn't feel like the slammer is awaitn' this week's contest will surely do the trick: It's THE GREEN MILE vs. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION.

This week sees the release of the newest Stephen King adaptation, THE DARK TOWER, hitting theaters, and it promises to be a shoot em' up, expensive-looking time at the movies. This is why we decided to slow things down for the Face-Off, and MILE and REDEMPTION are two of King's most dramatic works, proof there is just as much humanity and inspiration in his canon of work as there are terror and suspense. A lot of credit goes to writer/director Frank Darabont for bringing these two beloved prison dramas to life, but which tale is the most uplifting and inspiring? Let's get the gloves on and find out!

Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb
Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey
Sam Rockwell as "Wild Bill" Wharton
David Morse as Brutus "Brutal" Howell
Doug Hutchison as Percy Wetmore
James Cromwell as Warden Hal Moores
Bonnie Hunt as Jan Edgecomb
Michael Jeter as Eduard Delacriox
Jeffery DeMunn as Harry Terwilliger
Barry Pepper as Dean Stanton
Harry Dean Stanton as Toot-toot
Gary Sinise as Burt Hammersmith
Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne
Morgan Freeman as Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding
William Sadler as Haywood
Clancy Brown as Captain Hadley
Bob Gunton as Warden Norton
James Whitmore as Brooks Hatlen
Gil Bellows as Tommy
Mark Rolston as Bogs
Darabont works on a more intimate scale here. It's more about the people in the prison, and the prison itself isn't as much of a character as in SHAWSHANK. This is no problem for the director, as he's terrific at working with large casts in even the most confined spaces. Every character has a place, and Darabont stages the film like a riveting play. The scale is noticeably smaller, which works wonders for this drama and demonstrates the same kind of skills and deep love of the source material that he brought to Shawshank. Where this movie loses the coveted "check" is in the script. It's a beautiful piece of work in spots, no doubt, but the movie does run a tad long at three hours. Plus, there are several inmates with stories to tell (Delacroix, Wild Bill, etc.), Percy's villainous character to showcase, all on top of John and Paul's stories, so there's simply a lot more to juggle and it doesn't always have the clear focus of SHAWSHANK. But there are some tremendous pieces of dialogue in there, often given to Duncan's Coffey.
With SHAWSHANK Darabont makes the prison as rich and absorbing a character as any of the men inside the stone walls. Darabont creates a sense of epic scope by moving from the yard to the woodshop, to the kitchen and the cells with ease - as if we were being taken on a historical tour. What sells the whole thing, of course, is the brilliant work from the actors, with Darabont guiding them through natural performances that sell the idea that these men have spent decades locked away in a certain rhythm. But when we talk Darabont we can't just bring up direction, because what he's even better at is writing, and the script for SHAWSHANK is a pure force of nature and, at times, pure poetry. He was able to take King's novella and turn it into a powerful meditation on hope and survival, with more than enough lines to make it the most quotable movie ever...outside of a Will Ferrell movie, of course. Many engaging conversations between Andy and Red, and not to mention every line of Freeman's narration, all make up this piece of genius. Easily one of the best scripts ever.
Life is consistent on the Green Mile, the death row section of the Cold Mountain Penitentiary. Criminals come, they "ride the lightning," and lather, rinse repeat. That is until the massive, simple-minded John Coffey comes thudding down the Mile, and soon supervisor Paul Edgecomb, his men, and the inmates soon discover his miraculous abilities. Life is taken on the Green Mile, but thanks to John Coffey a little bit of it is brought back.
After being found guilty of killing his wife and her lover, Andy Dufresne is sent to Shawshank Penitentiary, where he is to live out two life sentences. There he meets the wise lifer Red, and over the next two decades, he spends his life trying with every fiber of his being to keep the hope alive that the one part of him that can't be locked away, his soul, won't be beaten down and killed. `
Intro in the Present

Meet John Coffey

John: "Yessir, Boss. Like the drink, only not spelled the same."

The Two Dead Girls

Toot-toot: "Walkin' the mile...walkin' the mile..."

Toot-toot: "Yeah! I want a fried chicken dinner with gravy on the taters, I want to shit in your hat, and I got to have Mae West sit on my face, because I am one horny motherfucker!"

Arlen: "That was my best time."

The First Execution

Mr. Jingles

The Insane Arrival of Wild Bill

Paul's Problem Cured

Loving on Bonnie Hunt

The Antics of Wild Bill

Percy Kills Mr. Jingles

Coffey Brings Him Back

The Bad Execution of Eduard Delacrioix

Locking Up Percy

Midnight Run

John Saves the Warden's Wife, Melinda

Melinda: "I dreamed of you. I dreamed you were wandering in the dark, and so was I. We found each other. We found each other in the dark. "

Percy Goes Looney - And Takes Bill With Him

The Truth Revealed

Paul: "On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God, and He asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what am I gonna say? That it was my job? My job? "

John: "I'm tired, boss. Tired of bein' on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we's coming from or going to, or why. Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head all the time."

John: "He kill them wi' their love. Wi' their love fo' each other. That's how it is, every day, all over the world."

A Flicker Show

Coffey Walks the Mile

John: "Please boss, don't put that thing over my face, don't put me in the dark. I's afraid of the dark."

The Long, Long Life of Paul and Mr. Jingles

Andy's Crime

Andy: "Since I am innocent of this crime, sir, I find it decidedly inconvenient that the gun was never found."

Meet Red

New Fish

Red:"Tall drink of water with a silver spoon up his ass."

Hadley: "You eat when we say you eat. You piss when we say you piss, and you shit when we say you shit. You got that, you maggot dick motherfucker?"

Warden Norton: "Put your trust in the Lord; your ass belongs to me."

The First to Crack

Meet Brooks & Jake

Andy: "I understand you're a man who knows how to get things."
    Red: "I'm known to locate certain things from time to time"

Andy: "Red. Why do they call you that?"
    Red: "Maybe it's because I'm Irish."

Red: "He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place. Yeah, I think it would be fair to say... I liked Andy from the start."

The Sisters Attack Pt. 1

Red: "I wish I could tell you that Andy fought the good fight, and the Sisters let him be. I wish I could tell you that - but prison is no fairy-tale world."

Making a Deal with Hadley

Beer in the Sun

The Sisters Attack Pt. 2

Andy: "I read it. You know how to read, you ignorant fuck?"

Bogs Down

Rita Hayworth

Red: "Two things never happened again after that. The Sisters never laid a finger on Andy again... and Boggs never walked again."

Andy: Prison Accountant

The Ballad of Brooks

Sweet Music

Building a New Library

Andy: "The funny thing is - on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook. "

The Arrival of Tommy

The Truth Comes Out

Andy: "How can you be so obtuse?"

The Death of Tommy

Andy: "I killed her, Red. I didn't pull the trigger, but I drove her away. That's why she died: because of me."

Andy: "You know what they say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory."

Andy: "Get busy living or get busy dying."

A Great Escape

Red: Andy crawled to freedom through 500 yards of shit-smelling foulness I can't even imagine, or maybe I just don't want to. 500 yards. That's five football fields, just shy of half a mile."

Salvation Lay Within

Red: "Andy Dufresne - who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side."

Red on the Outside

Anyone who leaves THE GREEN MILE without having shed a single tear has exposed themselves as some sort of emotionless mole person from the underground and must be eliminated. The final 30 minutes packs such a wallop, with John Coffey bearing his soul and putting words to the themes of light and magic existing in a world of darkness. There are many more moments sprinkled throughout the film that showcase this idea of love and compassion overcoming evil and sickness, and the death of Coffey alone is one of the most tear-jerking moments in recent film history.
SHAWSHANK has its emotional moments too, the prime being in watching Brooks trying to live on the outside world, only to come to the conclusion the task is impossible. But the movie aims to more inspirational than tear-jerking, even though next to MILE it does rank among King's more heartfelt adaptations.
THE GREEN MILE's theme of humanity overcoming immense struggle is broader than SHAWSHANK's, acting as a grand fable about love, purity, compassion, understanding and the goodness in all men. There are some big ideas in here, but the smaller scale gives off a more sensitive tone than a triumphant one. This is why it's not so much about the triumph of spirit as it is about good triumphing over evil.
Though it doesn't place the characters in some "race against time in the wilderness" scenario, SHAWSHANK is nonetheless a story of survival, and an accessible one at that. At its core, the story of Andy Dufresne is one of a man doing everything in his power to retain what little himself doesn't belong to the prison he's locked behind. Even in the face of mortal danger from the Sisters and fear of pain at the hands of the guards and the warden if he stopped doing their bidding, Dufresne never faltered and was always the best version of himself he could be. Watching him break out of jail and drives that convertible all the way down to Mexico is the ultimate demonstration of humanity triumphing over adversity.
Focused on one section of prison life than the entire experience, GREEN MILE no doubt finds the special story in the men who both work on and serve time on death row. However, in this particular contest, there's no real purpose in explaining why it comes in second to SHAWSHANK.
SHAWSHANK easily gets the win here because, as I said before, the prison is just as big a character in the film as anyone else, and prison life is a key aspect in telling the story of survival in its walls. There's danger around every corner (here in the form of the aggressively frisky Sisters), violent prison guards and a warden who sees these men as cattle, not human beings. But there's light to in comradery and the bond these men have to form in order to stay afloat, even if that relationship is with a bird named Jake. The authenticity of the prison environment is one of the hallmarks of the movie.
    Best Picture (Nom)
    Best Sound (Nom)
    Best Adapted Screenplay (Nom)
    Best Supp. Actor: Michael Clarke Duncan (Nom)
Golden Globes:
    Best Supp. Actor: Michael Clarke Duncan (Nom)
    IMDB: 8.5 (Top Rated Movie #36)
    $136 million domestic ($286 million global)
    Best Picture (Nom)
    Best Sound (Nom)
    Best Cinematography (Won)
    Best Film Editing (Won)
    Best Actor: Morgan Freeman (Nom)
    Best Original Score (Nom)
    Best Adapted Screenplay (Nom)
Golden Globes:
    Best Screenplay (Nom)
    Best Actor: Morgan Freeman (Nom)
    IMDB: 9.3 (Top Rated Movie #1)
    $28 million domestic
The Shawshank Redemption

THE GREEN MILE is an emotional powerhouse, fueled by a terrific dialogue and a fantastic cast with Michael Clarke Duncan turning in a bravo performance. But, let's face it, there's a reason THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION is the number one rated movie on IMDb. It's a perfect film from head to toe. As for the cast, Robbins turns in a stellar performance and Freeman is nothing short of iconic as Red, and together they're one of the best on-screen duos in film history. A ton of credit goes to Darabont for masterfully guiding this tale of human endurance and hope with solid directing style and a masterpiece of a script. The story is accessible, the characters are relatable and a joy to watch, the story moves with ease and there are enough inspirational pieces of dialogue to make the "Just Hang in There" cat look like a damn fool. In simple words: THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION is [email protected] perfect.



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