The Authenticity of Execution Scenes portrayed in „The Green Mile“

Term Paper, 2015

11 Pages, Grade: 3,0

Abstract or Introduction

In the late 1980s and the 1990s, the time Stephen King was working on his serial novels and movie ‘The Green Mile’, the newspapers reported of many execution errors comparable to Kemmler’s execution. Stephen King was presumably concerned by these horrible incidents so that these reports may have influenced his writing. The thought that this movie was made to enlighten and arouse the public, raises the question in which way these three executions in the movie resemble to authentic executions that took place over the years in the United States of America. To respond to this question this paper will give a summary of the movie ‘The Green Mile’ followed by descriptions of the three execution scenes. In the last part the three executions will be compared to real executions that took place in the USA and are discussed with regard to how accurate they are to reality.

The thought of executing a person through electricity has its origin in the late 19th century. During that time technology developed very fast and people were fascinated by electricity. However, installing electrical items like street lights caused many fatal accidents. The number of deaths increased rapidly in the 1880s. Apparently the victims died within seconds without physical pain and visible marks of external forces on the bodies. Soon people thought that power generators might be useful for executions. David Hill, Governor of New York, engaged a three-member committee to proof if electricity is suitable for executions. After three years of research the result was that electrocutions caused a painless and instant death. It was seen as the most human and practical method to enforce the death penalty.

The first electric chair was built in New York in 1888 (DPIC). Only two years later William Kemmler was the first person who got executed by electrocution in the US for murdering his common-law wife Tillie Ziegler. Even though the tests were successful, Kemmler’s electrocution in the Auburn Prison in New York occurred not to be as painless as it was supposed to be. His death on the electric chair took several minutes.

Even though there were oppositions and execution errors in the years later, the electric chair had been established in many other states. Altogether 26 states of the United States of America adopted the method of electrocution.


The Authenticity of Execution Scenes portrayed in „The Green Mile“
University of Rostock
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
authenticity, execution, scenes, green, mile
Quote paper
Merle Blunk (Author), 2015, The Authenticity of Execution Scenes portrayed in „The Green Mile“, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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