The Scene In The Green Mile That Went Too Far
“The Green Mile” is one of the most moving films of the late 20th century. Its director, Frank Darabont, has an undeniable knack for adapting poignant, prison-set Stephen King works. He brought “The Shawshank Redemption” to the big screen five years before “The Green Mile” was released in the United States on December 10, 1999, per IMDb. While “The Green Mile” is a very faithful adaption, Darabont left out some of the book’s darker parts.
Set in a Louisiana penitentiary during the 1930s, the movie stars Tom Hanks as corrections officer Paul Edgecomb. While working on death row, Paul and his coworkers meet the gentle giant John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), who possesses miraculous abilities. After using his powers to heal people, Coffey is sentenced to die for a crime he didn’t commit, which devastates Edgecomb and his fellow guards. It’s impossible not to sob uncontrollably during Coffey’s execution, and his death still hits cinema lovers hard.
“The Green Mile” is fondly remembered for being touching and spectacular. But there is one gasp-inducing scene of absolute horror that many film fans thought went too far.
Percy Wetmore doesn't wet the sponge
While most of the corrections officers in “The Green Mile” are decent, the same can’t be said for Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison). After obtaining his position from nepotism, Wetmore cruelly mistreats the death row inmates. His contempt for convict Eduard “Del” Delacroix (Michael Jeter) leads to blood-curdling consequences when Del is executed.
As Delacroix sits in the electric chair, Wetmore steps away to wet the sponge that will better ensure a quick death for the prisoner. However, Percy only pretends to soak the sponge and places it dry on Del’s head. As electricity passes through his body, Delacroix shakes uncontrollably and wails in agony. He is engulfed in smoke and flames as the guards stare in shock and the panicked witnesses desperately try to escape the gruesome situation.
It seems like it takes a lifetime before Delacroix stops moving, which makes the entire ordeal more appalling and unbearable to watch. This scene in “The Green Mile” still traumatizes viewers over 20 years after its release. On Reddit, u/PopsicleIncorporated said that Del’s execution “might be the single most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen in a movie.” Redditor u/JustAStarcoShipper agreed and replied with “It’s one of those scenes that with each re-watch it gets even more horrifying and disturbing.” In the same thread, u/schlepper-lepper stated, “nothing in my life has traumatized me like this did all these years ago.”
Later in the film, John Coffey punishes the fiendish Percy Wetmore by leaving him permanently stunned and silent.