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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My Favourite Movies

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So if you have been following this (2 month old) blog from the start, you will know I have loved films my whole life.  I hope the following gives you an insight into the films I like, love and/or wish I hadn’t seen!

My Top 20 Films:

The Godfather 2, LA Confidential, The Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Bourne Identity, The Talented Mr Ripley, The Empire Strikes Back, Casino Royale, The Fellowship of the Ring, Signs, Jaws, Cinema Paradiso, Avengers Assemble, The Goonies, Shaun of the Dead, The Terminator, Ghostbusters, Lost in Translation, The Shawshank Redemption, Black Narcissus, Sleepy Hollow

First horror film and favourite type?

I was 10 and staying at my best friend’s house.  Her teenage brother had a collection of horror films.  We watched Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves.  I had to sleep with a light on for a month afterwards.  I was easily scared then.  I prefer 70’s horror movies like The Shining, Carrie, Halloween and Rosemary’s Baby.  I also like George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.  I did enjoy the Ring and the first two Scream movies too.

Films that make me cry?

Oh, there’s been tons.  Schindler’s List, Born Free, Watership Down, Amelie, Beaches, Artificial Intelligence, Ben Hur, Cinema Paradiso, The Green Mile, Sense & Sensibility, The Shawshank Redemption….

AI: Artificial Intelligence. Beautiful, but sad.

Best child actor?

Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire.  Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine.  Rory Culkin in Signs and Mean Creek.  Perfect examples of actors, not stage school ‘jazz hands’ types.

Great example of a child actor: Rory Culkin

Films that make me laugh?

Trading Places, Despicable Me, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, There’s Something About Mary, Paul and speaking of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, their Cornetto Trilogy: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and World’s End.

Shaun of the Dead

Most disappointing film?

Anticipated by so many, so many left disappointed.  The Phantom Menace.  Should have waited for The Phantom Edit.  Come on JJ Abrams, I have faith in you to restore the saga.

Jar Jar Binks. Enough said.

Best teen film?

When I was a teen; The Lost Boys, The Breakfast Club and Heathers.  I never got the fuss about Dirty Dancing.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, it is fun, but I am dismayed when women say ‘it’s the best film ever’, including other genres. It’s set in the 60’s , but he had a mullet, she had a perm.  They dance.  They fall in love.  Nobody puts Baby in the corner.  More recently, I’ve enjoyed Mean Girls, Kick-Ass and Superbad.

Favourite war films?

It isn’t my favourite genre.  They’re sometimes a hard watch, but it’s important that they exist.  Schindler’s List is amazing. My favourite are; Empire of the Sun, Ice Cold in Alex and Carve Her Name with Pride.  My husband wanted me to say Apocalypse Now, but that’s his favourite.

Carve her name with pride. Heroine.

Most beautiful film?

Studio Ghibli make the most beautiful animations.  Giuseppe Tornatore’s films are stunning.  Tarantino, whether you like his films or not, always makes an amazing visual impact, on me.  For costumes, music, cast and locations;  To Catch a Thief and The Talented Mr Ripley.  Powell & Pressburger’s Black Narcissus is absolutely exquisite.  Most recently, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.

Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Stunning imagery.

Favourite thrillers?

The Talented Mr Ripley, Match Point, Shallow Grave, The Usual Suspects, A Simple Plan, No Country for Old Men and LA Confidential.

Woody Allen’s Match Point

Who are my favourite actors?

Several.  Cate Blanchett, Leonardo di Caprio, Joaquin Phoenix, Tobey Maguire, Judi Dench, Naomi Watts, Robert Downey Junior, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lawrence, Paul Giamatti, Edward Norton, Kirsten Dunst, Scarlett Johansson and, Tom Hanks.

Paul Giamatti. Brilliant actor.

I hope you know a bit more about what I like now and most importantly, that you enjoyed reading!

images: IMDb