The Green Mile
In the year 1999, Director Frank Darabont released The Green Mile, written by Stephen King (Novel) and Frank Darabont (Screenplay). The main characters include Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks and Dabbs Greer), Brutus 'Brutal' Howell (David Morse), Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison), and John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan). The movie starts out with the protagonist (Old Paul Edgecomb) recalling his memory of his time as a prison guard in the Great Depression (Green Mile). He recalls the year 1935 as the year his bladder infection was the worst it had ever been (Green Mile). He then talks of the first day that he had met John Coffey "Just like the drink only not spelled the same," (Green Mile). He then proceeds to talk about the amazing things that started happening in and around Death Row Block "E" like his bladder infection getting cured, a mouse coming back to life, a cure for a tumor, and finally the "insanity" punishment that one of the guards and a certain inmate so rightly deserved (Green Mile). Once he is done with his story, it is found that he is one hundred and eight years old and still has many, many more years to go thanks to John Coffey, a very gifted man who was executed in 1935 for the rape and killing of two innocent little girls (Green Mile). He was found to be innocent during the story but only the viewer gets to know that part (Green Mile).
This movie has become a period piece due to the themes it has used from the 1930's and the 1990's. The historical themes that are found throughout the movie include: the strict rules that aren't always enforced in a nursing home, segregation, God's importance, illiteracy of Blacks, corruption in prisons, open and shut cases, and no delay before an execution.
The rules of a nursing home are displayed from the nineties in the beginning of the movie when everyone is worried about Paul who seemed to keep to himself and violate rules all the time by going on walks alone and eating only plain white bread every day. I can't find anything about rules for patients to follow in nursing homes, but thanks to TV and some movies, I know that they exist and that some nursing homes really do kick out patients when they violate some rules, like trying to throw orgies to feel young again, but they nurses in the Old Folks Home in the movie allowed him to go on his walks because he never ran into trouble and he was kind enough for them to turn away even when he brought a friend along with him (Green Mile and ).
Segregation was illustrated by how everyone took one look at John and declared him guilty just because he was black and they could easily compare him to a dog gone rogue (they never stopped to listen to his side of the story). Back in the 1900s to the 1950s, "'Colored' Gets Three Years - 'White' Gets Thirty Days," was the way most cases that had a 'black' and a 'white' committing the same crime, in this case though the 'white' committed grand theft auto and the 'black' only stole a bicycle (Teaching History). In this film, if it had been a white man who was found at the scene of the murder, then they would have listened to whatever he had to say and he may have gotten life in prison at the most.
The way God's importance was shown was by Paul asking what he is going to so when God asks him why one of his "greatest creations" was killed.
The illiteracy of blacks comes in when Paul is surprised to hear that John can spell his name, he then asks for John to spell his name and proceeds to interrupt him in the middle of the first name.
When the townspeople find John with the two raped and dead girls, they immediately trial and persecute him on site (not literally). This went to show how officials weren't doing a full police investigation if they could present enough evidence that someone could easily find their person guilty, not to mention that if nobody wanted to look at ALL of the evidence they didn't have to.
The entire time period for the memory in this film is only a few weeks between John getting convicted and John getting executed whereas in today's world a minimum of ten years takes place before an execution can be taken place, during this time the defendant has many appeals before various or sometimes the same courts to determine if they truly are guilty, if a life sentence is better, or if they are innocent of the charge(s).
The corruption in prisons is shown by having all of the guards take John out of jail (illegal) and smuggle him to the wardens house to see the warden's wife at night for a surprise visit (unheard of) (Green Mile). During the 1930's, chain gangs, money and drugs were all being used corruptly throughout prisons (Blackwell). "Payoffs and privileges were the rule at New Jersey State Prison in 1930..." (Blackwell). "On [the prisoner's] body [was] found $193 in bills and a vial of heroin" (Blackwell). These are just two of the accounts that were documented from the thirties, since then prisons have been sealed more tighter than ever before (Blackwell). Thanks to Robert Burns, chain gangs halted entirely in December of 1932 but when the Alabama citizens got fed up with prisoner perks, Alabama reinstituted the system and today there are at least three southern states carrying on the chain gang helpers (Blackwell).