Kingdom come: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan and David Morse walk The Green Mile
Five years after collecting seven Oscar nominations for The Shawshank Redemption, Frank Darabont is back in prison with Stephen King for The Green
5 Mile. They tell The List why. Words: Miles Fielder
f Another Stephen King adaptation. another prison
film? ‘It was really a superlicial concern.‘ responds The Green Mile’s writer-director-producer Frank Darabont. ‘l'd been waiting for live years to find a story I could fall in love with. The nature of this was
3 so different.‘
‘Shaivshank was a brighter story than this one.‘ suggests King. ‘but there's a feeling that. in The
: Green Mile. the human spirit is alive and well.
Sometimes. the more difficult life becomes. the more
i the spirit has a chance to
shine.‘ f when he sought permission
short story ‘The Woman In
Darabont met King during his student filmmaking days.
from one the world’s best selling authors to film his
The Room'. ‘Frank made a
i glorious film.‘ recalls King.
‘He then came to me to take a shot at adapting ‘Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption‘. He did
g the screenplay on spec. It was just a mind-blowing piece of work.’ Later. Darabont would fly to Colorado. where the television version of The Shining i was being filmed. to secure the author's blessing on ; his third adaptation.
Virtually everything King has written has been snapped tip for film. often with poor results. Darabont. who counts Stand By Me among his
Z favourite King films. explains: ‘Filmmakers underestimate Stephen as a storyteller: they seem to
22 THE LIST 2-—l6 Mar 2000
'Filmmakers underestimate Stephen as a storyteller. I'm true to the author's voice. That's my primary job as a screenplay writer.’ Frank Darabont
miss his voice. I‘m true to the author’s voice. That‘s my primary job as a screenplay writer.’
Apart from the loss of one supporting character. Darabont‘s film is faithful to the book. Yet isn't a three hour running time somewhat excessive? ‘That presupposes that something can be arbitrarily shortened that was not designed that way.' argues Darabont. ‘When Abraham Lincoln was asked how long another man‘s leg should be. he said “long enough to reach the ground". I couldn‘t tell the same story in an abbreviated manner. there‘s a much more complex narrative tapestry going on than that. I don't want to make something if I‘m going to have to maim the material.’
Darabont shares a horror writer‘s credentials with King. though to a lesser extent: He broke into film with scripts for A Nightmare ()2: Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors. The Blob remake. The Fly II and several episodes of Tales ()f'l'he ('rvpt. He also wrote
for Steven Spielberg on Saving Private Ryan of
which he says. ‘l’m given all of the credit for ()maha Beach and none of the credit for anything else.'
With a five year gap between films. Darabont doesn't rush himself. ‘lt's always difficult to get back to directing.‘ he says. ‘Screenwriting is often an easier task; you‘re on something for two months and then you’re done. Directing for me is at least a two year commitment. There are moments of great joy. but the truth is it's actually incredibly exhausting. It becomes a forced march after a while. because the demands of stamina. mental and physical. are enormous. So I don't do it lightly.‘
Next for up for Darabont is not another King film. but a Frank (‘apra-esque comedy. The Bijou. That may be followed by a long gestating project. Doe Savage: The Man Of Bronze with Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the pulp superhero. Some day he would like to adapt Dickens. one of Darabont — and King‘s — favourite authors.
The Green Mile opens Fri 3 Mar. See review, page 23.
Light, camera, action . . .
’MARGARET THATCHER HAD just reared her ugly head,’ remembers John Mackenzie with a shudder. ‘And I thought of Harold as a Thatcherite gangster. He’s a capitalist thug, pitted against a committed terrorist organisation. He thinks he can win because he doesn't recognise fanatical idealism.’
You almost had a chance to read the full interview with the director of the seminal modern British gangster film, The Long Good Friday in this issue of The List. And you might’ve seen a twentieth anniversary screening of the film too had its distributor, Equator Films, not pulled its UK re- issue at the last minute. Instead, you'll need to take a trip to London’s National Film Theatre to catch the film, which is the jewel in the crown of Scottish filmmaker Mackenzie. There are conflicting stories about the muted re-release: a sequel in the works (news to Mackenzie), a wider release at a later date, and a missed opportunity to capitalise on the success of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. Altogether now, 'We want The Long Good Friday, we want . . .'
MILK TEETH MOVIES, the community filmmaking project co-ordinated by Glasgow's Castlemilk Video Workshop, screens its first batch of films on Thursday 2 March, at 7pm at the Castlemilk Youth Complex. The project’s aim is to provide first time filmmakers with training, technical support and a limited budget. The four films being screened are: Liz Dew’s Bus Fare, Malene Bang's Let The Dead Dog Bleed, Margaret McAuslan's Ranting And Raving and Stephen Jackson and Michele Lazenby's Bee Movie. For further information contact Fiona McEwan at Castlemilk Video Workshop on 0141 634 2603.
JIM CARREY'S OUT of the running for an Oscar on 26 March; those statuettes never get awarded to comedies. Spike Jonze is also likely to be unfairly overlooked for directing Being John Malkovich, as will Trey Parker and Marc Shaiman's original song for the South Park movie, ‘Blame Canada’ and Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor's adapted screenplay for Election. Those miserable sods
It's good to talk: Helen Mirren and Bob _ Hoskins in The Long Good Friday