The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

It doesn’t matter who you are, you love this damn film.

The film tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a banker who spends nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover despite his claims of innocence. During his time at the prison, he befriends a fellow inmate, Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), and finds himself protected by the guards after the warden begins using him in his money laundering operation.

Let me just say this, if you have not seen this film, stop reading and get out there to your local video store/Redbox/Netflix account/illegal movie download website and check this ditty out. Honestly, everybody loves it. Of course when people say that about anything, it usually means that it’s just their opinions and that about 2 people they know agree with them so they feel like hot shit but that’s not the case here at all. You could ask anyone their thoughts on this and I’ll bet they’ll all tell you the same thing: perfection.

The craziest thing about this flick is how this was writer/director Frank Darabont‘s first movie he ever made. That’s right people…..FIRST MOVIE HE EVER MADE! Darabont really deserves all the credit for this story and for this flick because he found a way to match all of Stephen King’s writing in such a perfect way that it made every line of dialogue, feel like a piece of art itself. When the film wants to be funny, it’s funny; when the film wants to be emotional, it’s emotional without ever being hokey; and whenever the film wants to find its own little sly ways of getting us more and more involved with this story, it does and never stops the whole time. All of the dialogue, if placed in a lesser hand, could have been written off as corny but Darabont and King work wonders together, and it’s no surprise that Darabont went after another King adaptation about 5 years later with The Green Mile. Oh yeah, and he’s the guy who also adapted The Walking Dead so that definitely earns some brownie points in my book.

I think what really makes me truly love this film the way that I do is that I have seen it about 5 times and not once does it ever get old. That’s the true sign of a good movie. Since you know everything that goes down in the end, you get the chance to look at everything once again and see all of the little hints and clues that this film throws at you, without you ever really knowing in the first place. It’s really cool how Darabont was able to throw these little things in there to have it all make sense in the end but still allows you to get something new out of the movie each and every time you watch it. The film is all about the human spirit and how we can all be free no matter where it is that we are at in our lives. These prisoners feel trapped but it’s all about how they can all break free from these walls without ever having to take a step over them. It’s a message that we have all seen done and talked about before, but for some reason, this film does it the best and really makes you want to just get out there and live like a free person anywhere you go.

At the center of this whole film though is the performances of everybody involved, especially those ones of Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. These guys were already big names before this film came out but I think it’s definitely the best performances of their careers by far, and if you have ever seen any of their other work you know that this is a very bold statement to make in the first place. Robbins is very mysterious and strange as Andy, but he’s also a very likable character that makes it easy to see why all of these guys take such a liking to him in the first place. We also see Andy as a free soul that wants to do anything in his power to do right for everyone around him and gets even better and better once you start to see just how smarter he is than he lets on. It’s such a shame that he didn’t get nominated for an Oscar here because he really brings a whole lot to Andy. Morgan Freeman is also the perfect choice as Red. Red is our narrator for the whole movie and shows us a look at everything that’s going on with Andy from the outside-in and it just works because you feel a huge deal of warmth and comfort from this character that it really shows as one of Freeman’s signatures when it comes to him playing in any role. I heard that Darabont chose Freeman over such legends like Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford, and to be honest, I couldn’t see any of them playing the part as perfectly as Freeman does here.

What made this film work the way it does on me is the friendship these two create together. Red sees something in Andy that he never expected in the first place and from then on, we see two people who are both struggling for freedom in a place where all hope is lost, gain some sort of hope together. What I’m describing right now may sound a bit too much like a mixture between Brokeback Mountain and Cool Hand Luke, but it’s honestly the best aspect of this whole movie because you see this friendship blossom over time and you see how they each look out for one another in every single situation they have. By the end, everything they have together starts to come in full circle and that’s where I actually started to tear up a bit because this is where the film’s message comes around and it’s also where you notice that these two guys were meant to best buds and live free after all.

Consensus: The Shawshank Redemption is just one of those perfect movies that seems to have it all: great writing, great direction, amazing performances, a message that is meant to inspire anybody who watches this, and so much more to it. Basically if you are reading the end of this review and have still not checked this one out, then get off your butts and do so. I promise you will not be let-down in the least bit.

10/10=Love and Cherish Forever!!


    • I don’t know how he did it with his directorial debut and it’s no surprise that he’s really never been able to catch the same kind of fire as he did with this.

  1. I understand why some people complain about this movie being too highly acclaimed, but I don’t care if it doesn’t break too many artistic boundries I absolutely love this film. I still think that regardless of how much I enjoyed Forrest Gump, it will always be a travesty that Shawshank lost the best picture Oscar to it (almost as shameful as Shakespeare in Love beating out Saving Private Ryan)

    May we all meet some day in Zihuatanejo 🙂

    • Hahah great line! I don’t know who I wanted to win that year because Pulp Fiction I feel would have been the best choice. Then again, this is the Oscar’s were talking about here and their not too fond on stuff like that.

  2. Unfortunately, not everyone loved it. There are so many snobs out there that despise this movie for some reasons, known to them only. However, enough about bad things. This film is wonderful. I love it to bits. I agree with you that every line, every moment seem like a piece of art. That’s what I feel about this film, too.

    • It’s just about as perfect as you can get and that’s why I don’t understand why so many people out there don’t feel the same way. Thanks Lesya!

  3. I can’t believe it was his first movie. I also can’t believe it lost out to Forrest Gump. FG was a good movie and it was clever. It is not in the same league as Shawshank. We have this on DVD, and I must rewatch it tonight. Just reading your review- I may have to rewatch it now!!!

  4. This was the movie that made me the film geek I am today. I try to watch it once a year – as it is easily the best film ever made. Good review, glad it was spoiler free for all the people who haven’t seen it.

  5. Good review. I actually had the damn ending spoiled for me by none other than a professional movie critic for Entertainment Weekly. She was reviewing another film and then wrote “it’s just like the [blank blank blank] scene in Shawshank Redemption.” Thanks a f*cking lot, movie critic. I sometimes wonder if I would have had a stronger reaction to the film if I had not known what was coming. Oh, I liked it quite a bit, but I think I lost the opportunity to love it because of that spoiler. And yes, she got a ton of flack for doing that, and wasn’t the least repentant. She defended herself by saying that people should have already seen the film. This is one of the main reasons I rarely include spoilers in my own reviews, and when I do I clearly mark them so people can avoid them.

    • Wow that’s total bull! I mean people should know to not include spoilers in their reviews, and if they do, just to mark where they are and warn people about them. I’m sorry to hear about that Chip. Screw her, whoever she may be.

  6. The problem with The Shawshank Redemption is that it was marketed poorly back in ’94. Gump had a lot of buzz, even though it was overhyped in my opinion.

    I fucking loved this film. I saw that it was number one on IMDb Top 250. It deserves to be there. I dare a person find something bad about this movie. I’m glad you loved it. Darabont is the messiah.

  7. I totally agree with you about this never getting old. I feel like it’s one of those films, that you can jump in at any point in the run time, and still enjoy it just as much as starting at the beginning. If I ever find myself flipping channels, I never say: “Oh crap, it’s ‘Shawshank’ again”.

    • I could never picture myself saying that and I think next time I see it on TV, I’ll definitely stop everything I’m doing and just check it out once again.

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