The mention of Stephen King brings to mind hideous nether-worldly creatures spewing vile-coloured blood and bile. But some of the best-selling authors best works involve regular men and women,and the horror that comes from the evil within,leavened by the good that manages,somehow,to overpower it. After watching two of his crackling books- to-movies,you know why hes called the best storyteller around the campfire,unafraid of being unsubtle.
Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) is condemned to a life in jail for something he did not do: the murder of his wife and her lover. Frank Darabonts creation of prison life and the horrors that live within is incredibly lifelike: never for a moment do you think that this could be a set and those could be actors.
The film,based on Kings novel of the same name,is equally riveting on a re-watch. You see things from Robbins point of view an endless grind in a place where you are never free,not for a moment,to do anything you want and you hope that one day he will get out,a tantalising possibility that keeps him going. As the only true friend on the inside,Morgan Freemans performance is as good as anything hes ever done. The two-disc special edition talks of the making of the film,and a whole host of other features.
With The Green Mile (1999),Darabont returns with another of Kings prison sagas,another film which takes you all the way inside those dark places that you hope you will never have to step into. The Green Mile is the last stretch that the condemned men walk: at the end is the electric chair.
Tom Hanks plays the all-too human (hes suffering from a urinary infection which makes all functions connected with his nether region very painful,as his neglected wife would testify) boss of The Green Mile,whose life changes when he comes into contact with a gentle giant,who is to die for a heinous act. He did not do it,and we know it,which is why we care so much for him,and what happens to him.
Hanks pitches an award-winning performance,and oh,theres a cute mouse in the movie,too.