As the story begins, a very old man begins to relate his story to a friend at a nursing home.
He tells his companion about the Cold Mountain Penitentiary in Louisiana, where the events he speaks about took place in 1935.
The head guard is a reasonable man named Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), and among his prisoners is a native American Indian called Arlen Bitterbuck (Graham Greene), who like many others is about to go to the electric chair.
One of the other prisoners is a seven-foot-tall gentle giant called John Coffey (Michael Duncan), who has been convicted of raping and murdering two little blonde girls in the deep south (you just know he didn’t do it).
After a series of unusual events take place, Edgecomb begins to wonder whether Coffey has special healing powers, to the extent that he feels John can help Melinda (Patricia Clarkson), the cancer-stricken wife of the prison’s warden (James Cromwell).
However, time is running out for John Coffey, since he too has a date with the electric chair.
Edgecomb, who has no stomach for frying John, says, “What will I tell God when he asks why I killed one of his angels?”.
The worst villain, after prisoner Billy Wharton (Sam Rockwell in maniac overdrive), is the guard Percy Wetmore (nice, nasty work by Doug Hutchison), who squashes Mr Jingles – a mouse that the prisoners regard as a pet.
Michael Duncan passed away in 2012 from a cardiac arrest. He was just 54.
Brutus ‘Brutal’ Howell
Warden Hal Moores
Eduard ‘Del’ Delacroix
William ‘Wild Bill’ Wharton
Harry Dean Stanton
Jack Van Hay