“Fascination with the disgusting is something we are often quite conscious of even as we turn away.”
I chose to use the execution scene from the movie Green Mile, a film that I’m going to further explore in my final project. This scene occurs at the end of the movie, when John Coffey, played by Michael Clark Duncan, has already established his relationship with the guards. The looks on the faces of the guards shows an abundance of disgust regarding the events they are witnessing. This is not the first execution these guards have witnessed or carried out, but if they had this reaction to every execution they conducted they would not be able to do their job for very long. They were disgusted by having to kill Coffey and watch their friend die, when he has proven to be a good man.
The disgust in this scene comes from a few different places, first their newfound friendship with Coffey, but then their internal struggle with having to fulfill their occupational obligations regardless of their personal feelings. Finally, the fact that the individuals that represent the system are disgusted, show a sort of aversion towards the system entirely. The head guard Paul (Tom Hanks) struggles to give the order because of these reasons.
I chose this quote to accompany my clip because it was rather thought provoking to me. They cannot avert their eyes not because the are fascinating with his death, but more fascinated with the shock and wonder as to why they just had to take the life of a good man. I had the face of Coffey appear over the disparaging faces of the guards as they try to hold back tears, then slowed down the climax moment of the scene when the lever is pulled and the electric chair is turned on. The cinematic effects of the lights exploding in the background truly add to the dramatic moment during this scene.
Although Coffey came to death row as a murder, he left as a saint, never to be forgotten by the men who were ordered to kill him.