Books filled with suspense and thrills are often hard to portray on screen. When Frank Darabont projected Stephen King’s novel, The Green Mile, into a movie, he somewhat failed to adapt the major themes and ideas in the book, which focuses on a person’s journey to the electric chair and death penalty during the great depression. The changed genre from serial thriller to drama in the motion picture greatly affected the scenario and vivid details of the novella and therefore lacked suspense and drama.
The film’s genre differs from the original book, from a serial thriller to a drama, and consequently, the gore, deaths and clues in the book were missing in the movie, which brought a disappointing feel. The book emphasized alot on the ‘‘serial’’ part, meaning the crimes and bloody executions, while the movie did not focus in on these to further attract a wider audience. Although it is effective in a big picture, I, personally, was disappointed because it was what made the book as realistic and heartwarming as it was.
For example, the book went back in time to show most of the inmate’s crimes, and thereafter displayed them dying in the electric chair, a painful thing to even read. In addition, the book’s suspense was mostly portrayed through clues and cliff hangers, but these, understandably, were left out in the motion picture because of the length and time. Due to this, discoveries were made straight forward, which takes out the ‘‘thriller’’ part of the novella. For example, the original work of fiction has Paul Edgecombe discovering John Coffey’s innocence through clues, research and some logic, contrary to the film adaptation, when Edgecombe finds out the truth when John Coffey holds his hands, at one point and time. To summarize, the changed genre was very harmful to the suspense and excitement that the book originally brought. The vivd details and descriptive passages are a big part of what makes Stephen King’s novels so good.
These details were unfortunately missing, especially through characters. To start, secondary characters were given less importance to the development of the story, which was frustrating to me, because they were very intriguing in the book. For instance, one of the most dramatic scenes in the movie is when Paul Edgecombe speaks to John Coffey about his execution, saying : ‘‘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?’’ (King, 497) This was really said by Brutus Howell, another prison guard at the penitentiary when speaking with Edgecombe. Moreover, the novel was extremely descriptive, something King’s novels are known for. Subsequently, movies adapted from his novels tend to lack these details, thus what happened for The Green Mile.
He fully gets to all your senses from sight to sound and smell. Case in point: When Eduard Delacroix, a long-time inmate, is executed on the electric chair, one of the prison guards sabotages the whole thing when he doesn’t place any liquid on Delacroix’s head to conduct the electricity. Thus, he suffered a horrible and disgusting death. As a reader, you really felt like you were in the room when it happened because of the details and description The movie adaptation of The Green Mile had a different scenario and structure to it, which had a negative impact on the story. For example: ‘‘there was another case of drama in Georgia Pines retirement home but was generally ignored’’ (The Green Mile: Film vs. book) It took approximately a third of the entire book. It added much suspense, and was taken out of the adaptation.
Thus, the movie became stagnant while the book always had you captivated in both stories, wanting to know what was next. As for the chronological order of things of things, the novel goes back and forth between 1932 and 1996, which is smart in a way that you can be reading one storyline and still be anticipating the other one that comes up in the next chapter, for instance. It would have been difficult to transfer this into the movie; hence, Frank Darabont decided to make a different scenario for the beginning and ending of the film. Lastly, the conclusion of the novel makes you reflect on the story itself and about life. ‘‘In the book, the green mile is emphasized as life, how everyone walks the green mile, everyone dies.
The movie seems to only refer to the green mile as a penitentiary.’’ (The Green Mile: Film vs. book) As a result, the book is more appealing since it translates to actual life, and the movie only concentrates on the literal story itself. The scenario, chronological order and structure was different in the movie, and for this reason, it was slow moving and less dramatic than the book. To conclude, the movie adaptation lacked the suspense and drama brought in the book, mostly because of the changed genre, which also affected the scenario and vivid details. A changed genre will often change the whole dynamic of the story, especially in Stephen King’s novels, which go into such detail and suspense that it is hard to portray on screen.