The Shawshank Redemption is directed and written by Frand Darabont. Based off the Stephen King novel, the movie stars Tim Robbins (Andy Dufresne) and Morgan Freeman (Red). The main character, Andy, a former banker is sentenced to two life sentences for apparently killing his wife and the man she was cheating on him with. When Andy first arrives at Shawshank, he suffers the typical hardships of prison but making new friendships with the other prisoners makes it more bearable for him. However, when the Warden takes notice of his banker talents, he takes him under his wing in the form of doing all the officers' taxes.
What needs to be said about The Shawshank Redemption has already been said. Rather than talking about what the movie has, it is better to talk about the legacy that the movie has left behind.
A well-developed story is what separates a good movie from an all-time great movie and Shawshank Redemption is all about the story. The film follows the classical paradigm which is composed of a rising action, a climax and a resolution. In these types of stories, we usually see a "shaping hand" in the hand in the story line. The storyteller is there to "edit out" the boring gaps and keeps a low profile yet still keeps the action on track, moving towards the resolution of the story's conflict. In this film, the obvious story teller is Morgan Freeman's character ("Red"). Even though Andy is the main character in the story, being able to be in Red's head gives the director suspense to play with. If the story was told in the perspective of Andy, the audience would not have nearly had the same amount of payoff the climax has in the movie. Red basically acts as the thoughts that audience is thinking which is not a bad thing. In fact, this outstanding performance by Freeman launched him into the go-to narrator that we all know and love today.
An important component of a good story are dynamic characters and Shawshank has arguably some of the best characters in any film. First, Andy's development over the film is impactful. In the beginning of the film, Andy is portrayed as someone who has been wrongly convicted and is a genuine "good" person inside and out. This is seen in the beginning of not fighting back when he is confronted constantly by the sisters to not talking back or picking fights with the guards or the other prison mates. He stayed quiet and reserved to himself. However, he soon realizes that doing good, is not the same as being morally good and that you can do bad things with a good intention. An example of this is when he gets the record from the state government. He knows he will get in a whole lot of trouble if he plays the record over the loudspeaker but he did it anyway because he believed that it was the right thing to fill the ears of the prisoners, yearning for music. He got in trouble and spent time in the dark cell but he knew that he did good. However, the best character development is seen in Red's interactions with the rehabilitation board in the parole room. Through each of the parole scenes following each act, you can see the progression of his character getting more tired as the movie goes on and as he gets older. In his final parole room scene, he explains that he never knew what "Rehabilitation" means and Morgan Freeman delivers one of his famous dialogues where he says, "Rehabilitation is just a made up word so people like you can dress up in a suit and tie and have a job."
Although director Frand Darabont utilizes great cinematography, sound, editing and has created some of the most famous shots in movie history, it is the "bar setting" story of The Shawshank Redemption that sets it apart from all other films in any "Top 10" list and gives it the highest rating on IMBD.