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The Shawshank Redemption
Year:
1994
Country:
USA
Genre:
Crime, Drama
IMDB rating:
9.3
Director:
Frank Darabont
Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne
Morgan Freeman as Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding
Bob Gunton as Warden Norton
William Sadler as Heywood
Clancy Brown as Captain Hadley
Gil Bellows as Tommy
Mark Rolston as Bogs Diamond
James Whitmore as Brooks Hatlen
Jeffrey DeMunn as 1946 D.A.
Neil Giuntoli as Jigger
Brian Libby as Floyd
David Proval as Snooze
Joseph Ragno as Ernie
Jude Ciccolella as Guard Mert
Joe Ragno as Ernie
Storyline: Chronicles the experiences of a formerly successful banker 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.
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Reviews
A classic piece of unforgettable film-making.
In its Oscar year, Shawshank Redemption (written and directed by Frank Darabont, after the novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, by Stephen King) was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and walked away with zero. Best Picture went to Forrest Gump, while Shawshank and Pulp Fiction were "just happy to be nominated." Of course hindsight is 20/20, but while history looks back on Gump as a good film, Pulp and Redemption are remembered as some of the all-time best. Pulp, however, was a success from the word "go," making a huge splash at Cannes and making its writer-director an American master after only two films. For Andy Dufresne and Co., success didn't come easy. Fortunately, failure wasn't a life sentence.

After opening on 33 screens with take of $727,327, the $25M film fell fast from theatres and finished with a mere $28.3M. The reasons for failure are many. Firstly, the title is a clunker. While iconic to fans today, in 1994, people knew not and cared not what a 'Shawshank' was. On the DVD, Tim Robbins laughs recounting fans congratulating him on "that 'Rickshaw' movie." Marketing-wise, the film's a nightmare, as 'prison drama' is a tough sell to women, and the story of love between two best friends doesn't spell winner to men. Worst of all, the movie is slow as molasses. As Desson Thomson writes for the Washington Post, "it wanders down subplots at every opportunity and ignores an abundance of narrative exit points before settling on its finale." But it is these same weaknesses that make the film so strong.

Firstly, its setting. The opening aerial shots of the prison are a total eye-opener. This is an amazing piece of architecture, strong and Gothic in design. Immediately, the prison becomes a character. It casts its shadow over most of the film, its tall stone walls stretching above every shot. It towers over the men it contains, blotting out all memories of the outside world. Only Andy (Robbins) holds onto hope. It's in music, it's in the sandy beaches of Zihuatanejo; "In here's where you need it most," he says. "You need it so you don't forget. Forget that there are places in the world that aren't made out of stone. That there's a - there's a - there's something inside that's yours, that they can't touch." Red (Morgan Freeman) doesn't think much of Andy at first, picking "that tall glass o' milk with the silver spoon up his ass" as the first new fish to crack. Andy says not a word, and losing his bet, Red resents him for it. But over time, as the two get to know each other, they quickly become the best of friends. This again, is one of the film's major strengths. Many movies are about love, many flicks have a side-kick to the hero, but Shawshank is the only one I can think of that looks honestly at the love between two best friends. It seems odd that Hollywood would skip this relationship time and again, when it's a feeling that weighs so much into everyone's day to day lives. Perhaps it's too sentimental to seem conventional, but Shawshank's core friendship hits all the right notes, and the film is much better for it.

It's pacing is deliberate as well. As we spend the film watching the same actors, it is easy to forget that the movie's timeline spans well over 20 years. Such a huge measure of time would pass slowly in reality, and would only be amplified in prison. And it's not as if the film lacks interest in these moments. It still knows where it's going, it merely intends on taking its sweet time getting there. It pays off as well, as the tedium of prison life makes the climax that much more exhilarating. For anyone who sees it, it is a moment never to be forgotten.

With themes of faith and hope, there is a definite religious subtext to be found here. Quiet, selfless and carefree, Andy is an obvious Christ figure. Warden Norton (Bob Gunton) is obviously modeled on Richard Nixon, who, in his day, was as close to a personified Satan as they come. But if you aren't looking for subtexts, the movie speaks to anyone in search of hope. It is a compelling drama, and a very moving film, perfectly written, acted and shot. They just don't come much better than this.

OVERALL SCORE: 9.8/10 = A+ The Shawshank Redemption served as a message of hope to Hollywood as well. More than any film in memory, it proved there is life after box office. Besting Forrest and Fiction, it ran solely on strong word of mouth and became the hottest rented film of 1995. It currently sits at #2 in the IMDb's Top 250 Films, occasionally swapping spots with The Godfather as the top ranked film of all time -- redemption indeed. If you haven't seen it yet, what the hell are you waiting for? As Andy says, "It comes down a simple choice, really. Either get busy living, or get busy dying."
2006-02-10
Highly Overrated But Still Good
A good prison movie whose cult of fans has made it into something so much more than it is. Greatest movie ever made? Get real. It's not even the greatest prison movie ever made. Hell, it's not even the best movie released in 1994! It's predictable and borrows heavily from decades of prison movie clichés. It's also nowhere near as deep as its staunchest admirers would have you believe. Still, it's an entertaining movie. Nice direction from Frank Darabont. Morgan Freeman is the highlight with a solid supporting cast. Tim Robbins, however, is borderline ridiculous at times with his cartoonish facial expressions and silly "stares-off-into-the-distance" moments. He's so far beneath Freeman as an actor it's sad. With a normal movie like this, I would focus more on the positives. I did give it a 7, after all. Unfortunately, it is easily the most overrated movie of all time (on IMDb, for sure) and as such the balance of positive to negative is out of whack.
2014-05-28
The greatest movie ever!
The Shawshank Redemption is easily my favorite movie of all time. It has every single element that should be looked for in a film. A brilliant script (with the best dialogue ever written), a perfect cast (not one bad performance), and not to mention an original, complex and ultimately uplifting story.

Based on the Stephen King novel, Shawshank Redemption is a delight from first scene to last. The opening is a brilliantly done sequence with Andy's (Tim Robbins) trial intercut with his actions on the night of his crime. This leads to him being taken to Shawshank with one of the best shots ever captured on film, with the camera sweeping from behind the prison bus in the air and diving into the middle of the prison yard. There Andy meets Red (Morgan Freeman) and others, and a gradual friendship begins to develop.

This movie has that certain indefinable screen magic, every line of dialogue spoken has real conviction and meaning, and the performances in this movie are nothing short of magnificent. Tim Robbins delivers his best screen performance ever, as the quietly spoken Andy. Here is a character like no other, so vivid, so real, that you can't help but like him. Morgan Freeman also delivers his best work ever as Red, Andy's friend. Freeman, while playing a different character from Robbins, is also able to give off a quiet dignity for his character.

The supporting cast is perfect. From Bob Gunton, chillingly evil, but never over the top as to become cartoonish, as the Warden. Clancy Brown, as the prison Guard Hadley is brilliant, as is Veteran James Whitmore, as Brooks, who while given relatively small screen time is brilliant as the lifer con who's sad journey the film details.

There is not a dull moment or poor line of dialogue in this film. Credit first time director Frank Darabont for this remarkable piece of work. He is a director of the future. I still can't believe this was his first movie!, he will find it hard to top this masterful film. Special mention must be made of the music score by Thomas Newman, who has composed a simple, but perfect score for this film. His scoring of the scene with Andy and Red sitting up against the wall discussing their plans for release is nothing short of brilliant, as is the rest of his score.

I encourage everyone who has not seen this to grab it now, as it is surely not only the best movie of the 90's but the best movie of all time.

***** out of *****
1998-08-10
To be seen once every 6 months, for complete revitalisation of Mind and Soul
Like a beautifully crafted French wine, this movie keeps getting better and better with every passing year. Every time I have viewed it over the past decade (and it must be at least more than 20 times by now), I have found newer shades, subtler indications, and deeper meanings. And it has amazed me like very few have.

* No overacting * Humour in the drab hopeless environs of Shawshank * Method in the madness of running the scams from inside * The complete secrecy maintained for 20 years (not even Red knew!) * The best that a highly-educated intellectual could do inside such a prison * What a great actor the Warden turned out to be - totally despicable! * What a bunch of speakable quotes.. what a bunch! * Totally recommended for any young person - students especially * HOPE TRULY IS THE BEST OF THINGS - a message that shines through
2012-06-15
Yes...
In 1947, banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, based on circumstantial evidence, and is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at Shawshank State Penitentiary. Andy quickly befriends contraband smuggler Ellis "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman), an inmate serving a life sentence. Red procures a rock hammer for Andy, allowing him to create small stone chess pieces. Red later gets him a large poster of Rita Hayworth, followed in later years by images of Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch. Andy works in the prison laundry, but is regularly assaulted by the "bull queer" gang "the Sisters" and their leader Bogs (Mark Rolston). In 1949, Andy overhears the brutal chief guard Byron Hadley (Clancy Brown) complaining about taxes on a forthcoming inheritance and informs him about a financial loophole. After another vicious assault by the Sisters nearly kills Andy, Hadley severely beats Bogs resulting in Bogs being sent to another prison. Andy is not attacked again. Warden Samuel Norton (Bob Gunton) meets with Andy and reassigns him to the prison library to assist elderly inmate Brooks Hatlen (James Whitmore), a pretext for Andy to manage financial duties for the prison. His advice and expertise are soon sought by other guards at Shawshank and from nearby prisons. Andy begins writing weekly letters to the state government for funds to improve the decrepit library. In 1954, Brooks is freed on parole, but unable to adjust to the outside world after 50 years in prison, he hangs himself. Andy receives a library donation that includes a recording of The Marriage of Figaro. He plays an excerpt over the public address system, resulting in his receiving solitary confinement. After his release, Andy explains that he holds onto hope as something that the prison cannot take from him, but Red dismisses the idea. In 1963, Norton begins exploiting prison labor for public works, profiting by undercutting skilled labor costs and receiving kickbacks. He has Andy launder the money using the alias "Randall Stephens". In 1965, Tommy Williams (Gil Bellows) is incarcerated for burglary. He joins Andy's and Red's circle of friends, and Andy helps him pass his General Educational Development (G.E.D.) examinations. In 1966, after hearing the details of Andy's case, Tommy reveals that an inmate at another prison claimed responsibility for an identical murder, suggesting Andy's innocence. Andy approaches Norton with this information, but the warden refuses to listen. Norton places Andy in solitary confinement and has Hadley murder Tommy, under the guise of an escape attempt. Andy refuses to continue with the scam, but Norton threatens to destroy the library and take away his protection and preferential treatment. After Andy is released from solitary confinement, he tells Red of his dream of living in Zihuatanejo, a Mexican Pacific coastal town. While Red shrugs it off as being unrealistic, Andy instructs him, should he ever be freed, to visit a specific hayfield near Buxton to retrieve a package. The next day at roll call, upon finding Andy's cell empty, an irate Norton throws one of Andy's rocks at the poster of Raquel Welch hanging on the wall. The rock tears through the poster, revealing a tunnel that Andy had dug with his rock hammer over the previous two decades. The previous night, Andy escaped through the tunnel and the prison's sewage pipe with Norton's ledger, containing details of the money laundering. While guards search for him the following morning, Andy, posing as Randall Stephens, visits several banks to withdraw the laundered money. Finally, he sends the ledger and evidence of the corruption and murders at Shawshank to a local newspaper. The police arrive at Shawshank and take Hadley into custody, while Norton commits suicide to avoid arrest. After serving 40 years, Red receives parole. He struggles to adapt to life outside prison and fears he never will. Remembering his promise to Andy, he visits Buxton and finds a cache containing money and a letter asking him to come to Zihuatanejo. Red violates his parole and travels to Fort Hancock, Texas to cross the border to Mexico, admitting he finally feels hope. On a beach in Zihuatanejo, he finds Andy, and the two friends are happily reunited.
2013-07-02
Awesome movie - The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
It's very rare that you find such diversity in a movie now days. I like the story and it's concept.A thumping good ode to friendship, hope, wit, wiles and wisdom, brimming with crackling characters and topped with the most twister of twists since "The Crying Game." The Shawshank Redemption is a powerful and uplifting, not to mention Oscar-worthy film. In 2006, it was ranked as the greatest film ever by Empire, a film magazine. The year it came out it was nominated for 7 academy awards but did not win a single one because of a movie you may all remember, Forrest Gump. It's the no-bull performances that hold back the flood of banalities. Robbins and Freeman connect with the bruised souls of Andy and Red to create something undeniably powerful and moving. Some of "The Shawshank Redemption'' comes across as outrageously improbable. Yet the film keeps pulling you back with its sense of striving humanity slowly turning the tables against evil.
2013-07-15
Very enjoyable, but let's not go overboard, folks
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION is very enjoyable, features excellent performances, and has won a fanatical following among a lot of people. I just saw it. I liked it. But as for becoming fanatically enthusiastic about it, all I can say is, folks, let's not get carried away...

The story not only is incredibly *simple* (good man unjustly convicted for horrible crime maintains hope in horrible confinement), but is also incredibly *simplistic* (the Warden and his men are evil goons, the convicts are good). Complexity is something completely exiled from this story.

The director, Frank Durabont, offers nothing new in his aesthetic choices -- SHAWSHANK is stock Hollywood filmmaking, especially of the Spielbergian variety ala THE COLOR PURPLE and AMISTAD. The soundtrack is overpowering in its efforts to imbue the story with "heartwrenching emotion." The cinematography is fine in a sort-of standard-issue, "seen it before" way.

Which begs the question: Is there anything truly *exceptional* about THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION? Heck yeah -- Morgan Freeman proves, once again, that he is not only a wonderful actor but also one of the most endearing, powerful presences in cinema. Tim Robbins is fine, along with all of the convicts.

But overall, I didn't mistake THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION for anything particularly new, remarkable, exciting -- in other words, as anything worthy of fanatical enthusiasm. It's a fine Hollywood film that looks, smells, sounds and feels like your typical fine Hollywood film. But nothing more.
2000-07-29
Simply Perfect
Like I did a few years back, you might be hesitating about watching this film. The title didn't appeal to me, and neither did the subject matter, so it was only by chance that I started to watch it.

I can only say that the film was a revelation for me and has stayed with me ever since. There are so many dark and hopeless films out there which, whilst they leave an impression, leave the wrong one i.e that there is no hope in life. Watch this film and be uplifted and be encouraged by the message...that there is ALWAYS hope....in any situation.

Please watch this film and the watch it again. It's a great answer to all the cynicism that is out there.
2006-01-01
Stephen King's prison tale with a happy ending...
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION is a kind of morality tale that is definitely one of Stephen King's more restrained kind of stories, dealing mostly with a character study of two individuals sharing imprisonment and the consequences that await them when the tale ends.

TIM ROBBINS is a man wrongly convicted of murder and serving a long prison term while MORGAN FREEMAN (who plays the narrator with great dignity) describes himself as "the only guilty man in Shawshank." The hardships of prison life are captured in brief scenes that make the viewer wish that Robbins will find a way of escape.

Along the way, he is gang raped by prisoners and treated harshly by a brutal warden and some of his spirit seems to vanish. But Robbins is quietly effective as a prisoner who makes a good adjustment when he takes charge of the prison library and sees to it that there's a wider selection of books than the kind of potboilers that King is noted for writing. A touch of irony here, no? The closing scenes are a bit of a stretch and a reminder of just who wrote this prison tale--but still, they make an impact because of all that happens before.

It's a bittersweet story, a sort of horrific fairy-tale of what might have happened, but the viewer will be caught up in the story because of the tremendously skillful story-telling magic of Stephen King and director Frank Darabont who also wrote the screenplay.
2006-09-17
A beautifully crafted tale that underlines subjects that have been forgotten in modern films- friendship,hope, freedom
This film is a modern classic. Why? Because it simply includes everything which builds a great story, and that is all films really are, storytelling.

The concept of story telling can very easily be lost and forgotten in an industry that can sell cinema tickets by using special effects and employing world super stars like Tom Cruise. That may well be the easy option, but films that rely on pretty faces and big budgets will never be remembered. It is films like Shawshank that will lodge themselves into people hearts, and will be passed down by many generations.

This is because everyone that watches this film becomes a part of it. You are there, in that prison, suffering when Andy does, smiling when Andy does. Tim Robbins plays this part so well it could be classed in one of the best lead parts in a film ever. He is simply superb. Plus, Morgan Freeman, well, would we expect anything less from a man with such talent?

It is this relationship, between Andy(Robbins) and Red(Freeman) which really strikes me as a breathe of fresh air, as if i had been hit in the face by a strong wind. We are trapped in a society where relationships only seem meaningful and deep when the two people involved are having sex. Hollywood have molded this preconception that characters with a relationship must sleep together. Shawshank, for once, tells the tale of two men, who by the end of the film have a very strong relationship, but have not gone down the Brokeback mountain road of madness. Their friendship is portrayed free of sex, yet is portrayed so powerfully that you are emotionally taken back by the ending. Personally i nearly cried at a friendship so pure yet so meaningful.

The plot is also perfectly timed. I am someone that is usually quite critical if the speed of a film moves too fast or if it drags on. Shawshank gives you a mixture of paces, but also keeps the story turning and turning, as if it has a heart beat, pumping more and more of the story line, unwinding the plot before your open jaw.

Another subject i would like to comment on is the swearing. Again, i am normally quite critical of films that have swearing in, just to look cool, or higher the rating. Swearing in that context seems unnatural, and therefore disjointed. However the swearing in Shawshank seemed totally natural, and all part of the atmosphere of the prison.

Finally, i think everyone should see this film. This is a pure, yet thrilling tale of hope, friendship and belief. The story is executed brilliantly, with intense characteriztion from both sides of the spectrum- you become Andy, and go through his struggles with him, and you hate the warden and his captain with a passion.

I guarantee, by the time those credits gracefully slide up the screen, you jaw will be open, your mind will be blown, and your heart will be broken into pieces. This is a truly unforgettable masterpiece.
2006-07-21
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