The 90’s: The Shawshank Redemption

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The Shawshank Redemption regularly tops favourite and greatest film movie polls.  The film was only released in 1994, but it feels like it’s been around forever.  It didn’t perform well initially, although it only opened as a limited release.  When it was rereleased in 1995 because the film was nominated for seven Oscars (which, the film should have won IMO) the film performed much better at the box office.  Like many other brilliant films though (The Bourne Identity being a good example), The Shawshank Redemption came into it’s own when it was released on vhs, fast becoming a much loved movie.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

A story by Stephen King, adapted into a screenplay and directed by Frank Darabont, The Shawshank Redemption is a modern classic.  Set in 1947, it tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), who is imprisoned in the notorious Shawshank Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover.  Andy maintains he is innocent, much to the bemusement of other inmates. The story is about this, but mainly about the improbable friendship that develops between Andy and Red, a ‘lifer’, played delightfully by Morgan Freeman.  Shawshank also focuses on the rather grim side of prison life and how Andy copes with it.

There are so many memorable moments in this movie, like when gentle prison librarian, Brooks, gets parole, but on returning to the outside world, he cannot cope with it.  Memorable moments in films are not always happy.  We need to remember that prisoners are human beings too.

Brooks

Then there is the quote below from my favourite scene in the movie, where Andy plays the Marriage of Figaro through the PA so the whole prison hears it.

Red: [narrating] I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.

Red and the other inmates

Why do fans (including myself) love this film so much?  Shawshank makes you feel sad, happy, angry, uplifted…..so many emotions throughout.  It’s an old-fashioned story about finding hope in a hopeless place.  The cast are fabulous and, for those who have seen it, you’ll know what I mean when I say, what an ending! To describe the ending in any way for anybody who has not watched Shawshank, would ruin it.  You need to watch this film with an open mind and enjoy it……

Andy: Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

Andy and Red

Trivia:

Of all the brilliant work he has done, this is Morgan Freeman’s favourite film

Rob Reiner wanted to direct, with Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise as Red and Andy.  Thankfully Frank Darabont decided he would direct.  I don’t feel the movie would have been the same without Tim and Morgan in those roles.  You believe this friendship is real and that is the heart of this film.

Images: IMDb

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19 thoughts on “The 90’s: The Shawshank Redemption

  1. It was up for seven Academy Awards but did not win any. It lost to Forest Gump in Best Picture, Best Actor, Film Editing and Screenplay. Lost to Speed for Best Sound, The Lion King for Best Score and Legends of the Fall for Cimematography.

    Sorry, I like the movie also.

    Remember 1994 was a great year for movies with The Lion King, Forest Gump, Pulp Fiction and Quiz Show just to name a few.

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    • Waah! Can’t believe I forgot that was the same year as Forest Gump. I also can’t believe it was just noms and not wins. Disappointed to hear that. Have updated post to reflect this.

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  2. I loved this movie, too. It may be one of those rare cases in which the film is better than the written story. I cannot IMAGINE this movie with Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise (neither of whom I’m all that fond of, especially Cruise). Also, what a shame it lost out to Forrest Gump. This was a much better picture IMO.

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  3. We visited that prison (which is one of the few places ever I’ve been that felt ‘creepy’) in Mansfield, Ohio. I don’t like the prison at all, but I do love the movie. 🙂

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  4. tiffanyatouchofgrace

    The Shawshank Redemption is one of my all time favorite movies. Probably top 2. The story is amazing. Great pick Louisa.

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  5. Casting is everything, isn’t it?! Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford? I don’t even want to visualize this for a second! So grateful for the director’s picks, even if it didn’t win any awards. I gotta say, I also liked Forest Gump as I love whimsy!

    Thanks for a great review, Louisa!

    Poppy

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