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Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Green Mile

This evening (Friday) Kathy and I saw The Green Mile (1999). [Wikipedia summary]  This was a story about goodness vs. evil; intelligence vs. stupidity.  The key ingredient of goodness and intelligence was empathy.  The key ingredient of evil and stupidity was the lack thereof.  Percy, the evil prison guard, had not an ounce of empathy.  (Paul Edgecomb and the other corrections officers in contrast demonstrated great feeling and respect.) John Coffey, the miraculous prison inmate, was the epitome of empathy.  Coffey was distraught at the sight of others' suffering; Percy enjoyed it. (Sadism is the perverted opposite of empathy.)  Coffey was described as a “simple” man intellectually meaning he probably had a low IQ.  Nevertheless he was shown to have keen even preternatural insight.  Percy, a regular smart ass, was reduced in the end to a simpleton in a stupor.  The central desire of Coffey was to infuse life; the central desire of Percy was to sensationally enjoy watching people fry in the electric chair.  This film’s central affirmation is that empathy represents a life force that seeks to bless; its absence represents a death force that seeks to curse.  Ironically, the brightest person is not always the smartest.

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