The Shawshank Redemption

Framed for murder, upstanding banker Andy Dufresne begins a new life at the Shawshank prison and gradually forms a close bond with older inmate Red.

Year: 1994
Certificate: 15
Director: Frank Darabont
Starring: Clancy Brown, Stephen King, Tim Robbins, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Frank Darabont, Morgan Freeman, Mark Rolston, James Whitmore, Gil Bellows, Jeffrey DeMunn, Larry Brandenburg

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I feel like I have to make a confession before I start this review – this is the first time I have watched “The Shawshank Redemption”, up until now it’s a film that I have always avoided. Now to the review:

“The Shawshank Redemption” chronicles the experiences of a formerly successful banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) as a prisoner in the gloomy jailhouse of Shawshank after being found guilty of a crime he did not commit. The film portrays the man’s unique way of dealing with his new, torturous life. Along the way he befriends a number of fellow prisoners; most notably a wise, long-term inmate named Red (Morgan Freeman). Written and directed by Frank Darabont. It is an adaptation of the Stephen King novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”.

Overall, the film is near perfect. I know it’s pretty cliché to state it that way, but when you analyze the dialogue, the characters, the directing and the tone of the movie; the picture flows flawlessly, even when it detours into side stories like Brooks Hatlen’s release which shows, without being self-pitying, the tragic fate of old prisoners who have forgotten how to function on their own, and new prisoner Tommy’s introduction late in the film. Every set-up, every nuance has some importance that eventually converges to symbolise Andy’s quest for escape and personal redemption. The story transcends one man’s confinement for a crime he didn’t commit and focuses instead on his reaction to circumstances beyond his control. Andy never loses his ability to keep his eye on the prize, even if it takes him a couple of decades to do so.

But even more so, you have here the story of Ellis Boyd Redding (Red), a convict who sees Andy as a person, and over time, an inspiration to himself and the rest of the prisoners who call him a friend. Through Andy, he comes to understand that even as a prisoner, a man can live life on his own terms if he can keep his mind uncluttered by thoughts of desperation and hopelessness. Not bad for a convict who started out believing that ‘hope can drive a man insane’.

The script is well written but without Freeman and Robbins, the film would have failed. It is easy to see why this is the film that made Morgan Freeman the icon that he is today. Whilst some saw his potential in his earlier bit parts in “Brubaker” and “Street Smart”. This performance is the greatest of his life; it dwarfs the overrated “Driving Miss Daisy”. This role is far more complex; he emotes with his eyes and body language with such ease. This is acting on the level of the greats. Again, the villains, the warden and the captain, will make you hate them so intensely you will be begging for them to get their just deserves. Clancy Brown surpasses all his other roles as the sadistic captain who enjoys hurting people. The length of the film serves the script; the friendship between Andy and Red is the core of the picture. It grows very slowly as each gets to know the other.

“The Shawshank Redemption” is a movie about faith, hope, and the friendship of two men. In my opinion it’s a great film which plays with your mind and feelings, you concentrate so much on the main plot that you ignore the hidden subplots, those that are important at the end of the movie and surprise you, the actors are amazing. If you want to see a film that makes you feel excited, worried, sad and happy, “The Shawshank Redemption” is for you. This is definitely a film I shall watch many more times – it’s one of the best I’ve seen in a very long time.

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!

About Tammy

A parent blogger and mom to 3 adorable children, who likes watching documentaries and dramas.

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