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Capital punishment is on the rise as one of the most controversial topics today. Our society has developed such an interest with this topic that more and more entertainment films are being based upon this issue. Whether the film is for or against the death penalty many of the movies take the viewer on an emotional roller coaster. A recent movie that depicted capital punishment on several different issues is The Green Mile. The director takes us back in time to a Louisiana death row penitentiary.
The title The Green Mile was given to the film because the floor leading to the execution room is of a pale green color. Tom Hanks, who was once a prison guard there, is telling the story as an old man living in a nursing home who still is haunted by the incidents that took place while he was in charge of The Mile . Many of his experiences are remembered because of his guilty feelings toward carrying out and overseeing the activities that took place, as well as the incidents that happened that were out of his control.
These incidents that occurred and left a lasting impression upon Hanks are examples of how capital punishment is an inhuman and unjustified punishment. Michael Jeter who plays Eduard Del Delacroix, an inmate on death row, plays a significant role in portraying the problems with the death penalty.
The crime that he has been convicted of is never mentioned throughout the story, only that he is deeply sorry and very remorseful for his crime.
From the beginning of the movie he is shown as a likable character that is comical and makes you smile or laugh in most of his scenes. This helps to show that no all people on death row are barbaric animals, some are human beings that have made mistakes in their lifetime and are deeply sorry and regretful for their mistakes. This likable trait that Del possesses only makes the scene of his execution even more dramatic and powerful. When the procedure of the execution is not followed correctly, a sponge being put on the victim s head should have been wet but was not, the death of the captivating character is a long and tortured one. As one of the most memorable scenes in the movie, this shows the side of capital punishment that is not often talked about, the case of when an execution goes terribly wrong. So when the question arises as to how humane the death penalty is, these kinds of mistakes need to be taken into consideration. Michael Clarke plays John Coffey, the main character on death row. He is a huge black man that has been convicted of raping and murdering two young sisters. Despite his size, he is portrayed as a sensitive and caring man who posses a gift from God to heal others. He was found with the two young sisters and was unable to convince anyone that he was trying to use his gift to bring them back and help, not hurt them in any way. In several different scenes in the movie he uses this gift, which reveals his innocence and captures the heart of the audience. Even though his lawyer and the guards of the prison believe and know him to be innocent, his execution is still carried out. This is significant because it reveals several problems in the death penalty.
The biggest problem that it exposes is wrongful convictions. There have been numerous accounts of people being accused, convicted, and executed who were in fact innocent of the crime that they are being punished for. The next conflict that was shown with this character was the racial issue that was present then and is still evident now. Because he was a black man being accused of killing two white children it was much easier to convict him because of the racial prejudices and tensions. Another character that helped show the injustice of capital punishment was Percy Wetmore who was played by Doug Hutchison. Percy was an evil prison guard who wanted to be the one to carry out and supervise an execution. Not only did he want to take an active part but also wanted to see an inmate suffer and be tortured to death. As a result of this, he was the one responsible for Del s execution that went wrong and resulted in a long and horrendous death. This helped to shine light on the fact that some people view our government as hypocritical because they are murdering or putting someone to death for the same act that they are about to commit.
Throughout the movie Percy is shown as a character that is evil and horrific, worse than most of the prisoners themselves. Some view the government in the same way, many people are murdered and put to death for crimes they may or may not have committed. Our government carries out the law that no one has the right to take another person s life, so what gives the government the right to do so? Because of the controversy of capital punishment, more and more concerns are starting to be raised about the humanity and justice of our legal system. The films and movies that are being based upon these issues are helping to make the public more aware of the problems associated with the death penalty. Often times people view capital punishment as a justifiable form of punishment until they become aware of all the complications or are involved in the process personally such as the prison guard played by Tom Hanks. The Green Mile serves as an excellent example of a movie that helps reveal the problems and tribulations of capital punishment.
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