For this analysis I chose a movie, which is, on the one hand, one of my favorite movies, and, on the other hand, I do not like my choice as I am quite certain: there must have been a significant number of students before me who were choosing this very movie for similar assignments. But, in the final score, I thought, that finding an assignment which will have never been exploited by other students in similar papers is a task which is similar to making a wonder. Thus is it really worthwhile attempting the fruitless originality? I lastly decided negatively and so be it, the Green Mile, a movie shot by one of the most shocking books by Stephen King, which, by the way, also has got the same name. The picture has won a number of prestigious awards, among which it is certainly worthwhile mentioning 1999 academic awards (Lyman, 2000).
The picture is among those, which is certainly widely known to the public, thus there is certainly no need in retelling the plot of the film. It is very well known as an example of XX century film classic. And the movie is certainly very closely related to a number of social topics. Social motives are closely intertwined within the picture. And this paper is dedicated to particularly point out this.
In general, the main theme of the movie is the disappointment with life and the society. First there is the wrongly executed almost insane African American, who is executed despite being absolutely innocent for the crime of which he is accused. And then there is the old executor, the one, who despite his will had to let the guy be killed through the traditional and disgusting manner of that time. Both are lonely, both are beyond the framework of the society; both cannot find their place within the society. The main character, John, the huge African American man convicted and then executed for the murder of two little girls, whom he, on the contrary tried to heel is quite obviously kind. His kindness is particularly seen through his desperate desire to heel a mouse, killed by another man. And he succeeds. After this scene it becomes obvious to the audience: the man is innocent. The movie attracts the viewers’ attention to a number of social issues. These include but are not limited to racism, imperfect system of judicial power, even less perfect system of penitentiaries, indifference of the people as for who is being executed as long as there is one. Lastly, the disgusting tradition of death sentence execution. All these problems are closely addressed within a movie and constitute the social significance of the movie.
When speaking of the sociological/pop cultural concepts which can be met in this movie, one should first of all underline the meaning of ethnocentrism, multiculturalism and cultural relativism for the development of the movie’s plot and main theme.
It would be reasonable to start with ethnocentrism. It would appear, that ethnicity is not what should have any meaning in the time depicted in the movie, but it turns out to be that such an assumption is entirely wrong. The ethnocentrism is sometimes very close to taking a form of nationalism, particularly when a strange person is fought against by the entire society. We can see ethnocentrism in the attitude to John. He is not welcome; he is guilty simply because he is different. Period.
Another concept is Multiculturalism. Well, this concept is naturally embodied within the framework of the movie as there is hardly one American movie which would not depict multiculturalism, as the United States is a country of many cultures, has always been and is more than ever now. It was such in the times, depicted in the movie as well. And it is particularly interesting how multiculturalism intertwines with racism and ethnocentrism.
Lastly, there is one more concept: cultural relativism. Cultural relativism is something one cannot imagine is life in a multicultural environment. But even taking into consideration only one ethnic culture, it is so weird, that such executions were seen as something natural in our country only a few decades ago. Moreover, there are numerous supporters of the thought, that this is the way the criminals need to be executed. Presence of such people in modern American society is a great example of multiculturalism. This example is also present in the movie.
I strongly believe that multiculturalism was the concept, which was most explicitly present in the movie. The weakest presentation was such of the ethnocentrism as a social issue.
In the final score, it was not certain ethnicity which was largely supported; on the contrary, there was a race, which was oppressed. Moreover, it is not quite necessary, that it was the race, which mattered that much. There were other factors involved. There was much more about John than just being black.
It is quite a wonder, but I caught myself at a thought, that the movie reminded me something. And this something was the “To Kill a Mocking Bird” movie. This movie is also an academy award winner (Nichols, 1998). And after watching the Green Mile, and recollecting the events in the “To kill a Mocking Bird” a viewer will certainly be astonished with similarities. Our society has advanced so significantly in terms of technology. But what about the moral progress? It does not appear to be the case. We are still killing the Mocking Birds on a Green Mile.