Classic Review – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption

Title – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Director – Frank Darabont (The Green Mile)

Cast – Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, Clancy Brown, James Whitmore

Plot – Convicted of murdering his wife and her lover everyman bank manager Andy Dufresne (Robbins) is sent to serve his life term in Shawkshank Prison. Once inside Andy must fight for his very survival from not only inmates but from ruthless prison warden Norton (Gunton) and his right hand man and guard Captain Hadley (Brown) , Andy however finds hope and strength in his friendship with old-timer Red (Freeman) who inspires him to a better life.

“Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

Review by Eddie on 18/10/2013

There are few movies ever made that require no justification as to why some (or in this case almost everyone) considers it a classic, Shawshank Redemption is one of those films.

Shawshank lives onto this day in such high esteem that it feels almost pitiless to do a “normal” review of the film for by now almost everyone out there has seen or knows of the movie that inspired us to “Get busy living, or get busy dying” a movie that after watching it makes you feel like you could achieve anything or escape any prison either physically or metaphorically.

Upon re-watching the movie for the umpteenth time it occurred to me that there are so many reasons as to why Shawshank is the film it is, a film that has so many elements that are truly classic. Here are some of the points in the film that to me make this movie endlessly rewarding and virtually as flawless as a movie could ever aim to be.

–  Shawshank Prison: is there anything more foreboding than the flying camera zooming over the prison grounds as a bus of “fresh fish” arrives? Shawshank acts as a character in itself both endlessly scary yet sadly home to many convicted men.

–  Morgan Freeman as Red: introducing the world to the now overused but never better voice over work of Freeman, Shawshank offered Freeman the role of his career as wise and deep thinking Red, a character everyone feels an affection towards.

– Thomas Newman’s score: crafting a score that ranges from the haunting to the uplifting, Newman’s score for Shawshank is a work of a true musically genius and has cues that to this day are used in all manners of film and other advertising. Try not to feel emotion as the music kicks in as Brook’s leaves prison.

–  The Script: turning Stephen Kings short story into an epic 2 hour plus feature film may have to some seemed like a pipe dream but what Darabont did with the script is nothing short of a magnificent work by a wordsmith that will never top what he did here. Classic examples include: “Bad luck, I guess. It floats around. It’s got to land on somebody. It was my turn, that’s all. I was in the path of the tornado. I just didn’t expect the storm would last as long as it has” or “The first night’s the toughest, no doubt about it. They march you in naked as the day you were born, skin burning and half blind from that delousing s**t they throw on you, and when they put you in that cell… and those bars slam home… that’s when you know it’s for real. A whole life blown away in the blink of an eye. Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it”.

–  The story: The journey Tim Robbins’s Andy takes over 20 years in Shawshank is one we the viewer’s feel like we take to. Never more so have we felt the sweat of prison workshops like we do here, the feeling of relief in times of outdoor recess or the fear of guards lying in wait to throw us in the “hole” or react with their batons. Shawshank is more than a prison movie however it is a life affirming tale of hope, loss and friendship.

The Shawshank Redemption will continue to live on and be a part of best of lists, a future it deserves. Upon reflection and re-watch I can say one thing for certain and use a word that did not exist when Shawshank first entered our world. Shawshank Redemption is the best “bro-mance” tale we will ever see, a tale that we will never forget and a movie that will never grow tired or old.

5 Rita Hayworth posters out of 5

30 responses to “Classic Review – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

  1. I’m liking it because I like you guys…but it’s the most overrated film in motion picture history. Likable, but sentimental to a fault. It’s popularity is completely bewildering. It’s not even close to the best Stephen King adaptation. “Carrie”, “The Shining”, “The Dead Zone”, “Stand by Me” are all superior. Okay, now I feel better…carry on! ML

    • I actually like/love the movie because it is different from most of the adaptations of Stephen King’s other books. One thing that I’ve learned is there is never going to be 100 percent agreement in a music, book, movie, etc. rating. People will never completely agree … that’s why I love the fact that we all are free to choose the things that entertain us. With that said, The Shawshank Redemption will remain my favorite movie of all time … until something else that I like better comes along! Thanks for the classic review.

  2. I got this movie on blu-ray for free and I have yet to sit down and rewatch it again. It was on TNT for sooooo long and I saw it over and over in bits and pieces. But you have inspired me to make a night of it and sit down and watch the entire thing from beginning to end again. It’s been too long.

  3. Hey Jordan & Eddie, you guys missed out one very spectacular line in that movie … Red says something about shitty pipe dreams when Andy plans his escape … That, my friends, is the best use of foreshadow in all of Moviedom …

      • Hey Eddie, not too sure who you’re referring to as Idiot here, but in case it wasn’t clear, what I meant as “foreshadow” is exactly how Andy makes his escape … which is why I think Red’s words about “shitty pipedreams” is do dead on the nose … It’s succinct, brief, straight to the point without giving away the plot … So, I stand by my conviction that Red’s words are the best use of foreshadow, and the best line in all of Moviedom …

  4. God, do I love this movie. Never gets old, no matter how much time passes, no matter how many times I catch it halfway through on television. Genius performances by all. The ending is like the happy ending that Cool Hand Luke never got..

    • Cheers J-Pat – as I contemplated a review of the film it really did strike me that it defies normal review cornerstones as it really transcends them by its reputation. Was interesting just considering the aspects that make it the classic it is. Cheers for stopping by mate and happy watching.

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