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THE GREEN MILE

About The Production
Filmmaker Darabont managed to condense King's six-part novel into a viable screenplay in just eight weeks, the same time it took him to write his adaptation of "The Shawshank Redemption."

Darabont and company then stepped onto the precisely detailed Death Row set. Production designer Terence Marsh also conceived Darabont's prison design in "The Shawshank Redemption." Marsh's "Green Mile" was comprised of only eight jail cells, a distinct contrast to the huge cellblock of 200 cells he constructed for "Shawshank."

Darabont states, "if anybody in this production deserves a nomination for his work, it's Terrence Marsh. There isn't a single interior in this movie, with the minor exception of the warden's office, that wasn't designed and built from scratch - - every nut, bolt and frayed electrical cord. And there wans't a single exterior location that wasn't substantially reinvented for purposes of filming. When Stephen King walked onto the cellblock set for the first time, he said it was like being turned loose inside his own head, that it was like taking a walk inside the country of his own imagination. Coming from the author of the book, you'll not find higher praise than that."

"Frank and I specialize in prison pictures," Marsh jokes. "From a design standpoint on this film, we were mainly concerned with such a confined area. It's just the guys on Death Row, which is the Green Mile. On ‘Shawshank,' we were out in the exercise yard, and one had a sense of the whole prison, this whole environment."

In researching locations for his designs, the scouts took Marsh and director Darabont back to the now-shuttered Tennessee State Penitentiary, which the pair had looked at back in 1993. Darabont had previously considered this site for "The Shawshank Redemption," opting instead for the Gothic reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, which has now been largely razed.

The old Tennessee State Penitentiary has become somewhat of a celebrity itself, housing such Hollywood productions as the HBO movie "Against the Wall" (for which it was painted red) and Bruce Beresford's "Last Dance" with Sharon Stone During the week the company filmed there, many of the cast and crew ended up touring the penitentiary's old Death Row building, Unit 6, a low, one-story rectangular stretch of brick that sits adjacent to the main administration building. Among its many inhabitants over the years was felon James Earl Ray.

Marsh and Darabont also visited several other Southern penitentiaries to research a variety of Death Row cell blocks, many of which "were literally these narrow corridors with low ceilings and these little boxes off to the side. They were not pictorially interesting."

"We tried to give our set a sense of space," Marsh says. "A sense of history. And a sense of mystery, in a way. We chose the elongated cathedral-like windows because there is a very mystical element in this movie, a supernatural element, which we didn't have in ‘Shawshank.' It presented us with lots of opportunities."

Marsh's set also contained another grim reminder of the story's eerie atmosphere -- a spooky replica of a mahogany-and-copper electric chair fashioned from an amalgam of electric chairs he researched at New York's Sing Sing, plus prisons in Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and Georgia. Marsh and his art directors borrowed characteristics from each to create their own unique instrument of death,<

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