Last week there was a news which said authorities at jails and prisons in India, are starting jail tourism. This is certainly not a bad idea, at least from the revenue generation perspective. Everyone is curious about life inside a prison. There is a mysterious circle around it. The only thing amused me is that, the tourism plan they have, is to allow tourists to stay inside a cell, and experience it from within. Now this is novel. I have been, in the past, as a tourist, to couple of prisons, which are not active anymore. For example, famous prison called Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary near San Francisco, on an island of Alcatraz; Eastern State Penitentiary, in Philadelphia. And it was a great experience, but now, visiting a live prison, staying inside it and experiencing it from within is something different!
The reason I remembered all this is, that I happened to watch, a famous jail movie The Green Mile recently. I have been hearing about it at many occasions, being one of the best movies. There are couple of famous jail movies such as The Shawshank Redemption and Clint Eastwood’s Escape from Alcatraz, both of which I had watched in the past. There is another one called Dead Man Walking starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. All of them are very gripping movies, and the last two are based on real events.
The Green Mile is a movie based on Stephan King’s novel, starring Tom Hanks. He is hell of an actor. It is period movie, particularly references to 1930 time USA, the great depression era. The movie takes place inside of a prison called Cold Mountain Penitentiary. It tells stories of personalities of wardens, and inmates of the prison. Particularly, these inmates are on a death penalty. It seems they used to use electricity then to execute the criminals in the prison. The film portrays this execution by electrocution in detail and is a gruesome to watch even in a film. It was also interesting to watch that, while execution is carried out, the audience is allowed to view it, during those times. In India, of course, there is procedure of hanging criminals. I remember lot of discussion about famous hangmen of India, who executed infamous criminals such as Ajmal Kasab etc. A quick search on Internet found a interesting link to details on hangmen of India.
The movie is lengthy, for sure, almost 3 hours. I remember the old days of Hindi movies, which used to be 3 hours movies. The reason why this is a lengthy movie is because it depicts relation of each of 3 inmates with wardens, in detail before they are executed. Each of them bring different personality. It is interesting to note that couple of them suffer from mental disorder, and also one of wardens displays personality disorder of sadism. It is also interesting to see inmates ethnicity-one of them is black(played by Michael Clarke Duncan), another one is a native American.
This a not an easy movie to watch. So be prepared for some torturous experience which will leave you spellbound, if you happen to watch it. In India, I don’t think we have had any notable prison movies. May be a movie on Kasab’s life in prison, could be a good story, to depict what goes behind the bars in the Indian prisons. One interesting side note on depiction of movies in Indian films. The famous Hindi film Do Aankhen Barah Haath(दो आंखे बारह हाथ)), directed by V Shantaram and written by famous Marathi writer/poet G D Madgulkar, had depiction an interesting experiment where inmates are allowed in open. The story was inspired by idea put forward by Polish engineer named Morris Friedman. It was using prison inmates to help build watershed for drought by then princely state of Aundh in 1939. This is similar to concept which existed in the USA where prisons were called penitentiaries. I have written about one such named Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia