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  • Why do I want to write the 234th comment on The Shawshank Redemption? I am not sure - almost everything that could be possibly said about it has been said. But like so many other people who wrote comments, I was and am profoundly moved by this simple and eloquent depiction of hope and friendship and redemption.

    The only other movie I have ever seen that effects me as strongly is To Kill a Mockingbird. Both movies leave me feeling cleaner for having watched them.

    I didn't intend to see this movie at all: I do not like prison movies and I don't normally watch them. I work at a branch library and one day as I was checking The Shawshank Redemption out to one of our older patrons, she said to me, "Whenever I feel down or depressed, I check out this movie and watch it and it always makes me feel better." At the time, I thought that was very strange. One day there was nothing on TV except things I absolutely would not watch under any circumstance or things that I had seen too many times already. I remembered what she said, so I watched it. I have watched it many many times since then and it gets better with every showing.

    No action, no special effects - just men in prison uniforms talking to each other.

    The Shawshank Redemption and To Kill a Mockingbird are the best movies I have ever seen. I do not judge it by it's technical merits - I don't really care about that. I have read that Citizen Kane or The Godfather or this or that movie is the best movie ever made. They may have the best technique or be the most influential motion pictures ever made, but not the best. The best movies are ones that touch the soul. It takes a movie like The Shawshank Redemption to touch the soul.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    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."
  • I have never seen such an amazing film since I saw The Shawshank Redemption. Shawshank encompasses friendships, hardships, hopes, and dreams. And what is so great about the movie is that it moves you, it gives you hope. Even though the circumstances between the characters and the viewers are quite different, you don't feel that far removed from what the characters are going through.

    It is a simple film, yet it has an everlasting message. Frank Darabont didn't need to put any kind of outlandish special effects to get us to love this film, the narration and the acting does that for him. Why this movie didn't win all seven Oscars is beyond me, but don't let that sway you to not see this film, let its ranking on the IMDb's top 250 list sway you, let your friends recommendation about the movie sway you.

    Set aside a little over two hours tonight and rent this movie. You will finally understand what everyone is talking about and you will understand why this is my all time favorite movie.
  • This movie is not your ordinary Hollywood flick. It has a great and deep message. This movie has a foundation and just kept on being built on from their and that foundation is hope.

    Other than just the message of this movie the acting was phenomenal. Tim Robbins gave one of the greatest performances ever. He was inspiring, intelligent and most of all positive. His performance just made me smile. Robbins plays Andy Dufresne who was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. He is gets to life sentences but yet never gives up hope. In he becomes friends with Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding played by Morgan Freeman. Freeman who gives the finest performance of his career has unlike Robbins lost hope. He is in deep regret of the crime that he committed. His way of deflecting the pain away is by trying to not feel anything at all. With his friendship with Andy he learns that without our hopes and dreams we have nothing. Andy also becomes friends with the rest of Red's group. James Whitmore also gave a great performance as Brooks Halten who gets out of prison parole but in the words of Red he has been "institutionalized".

    The directing by Frank Darabont was just magnificent. He kept this movie at a great steady pace along with the writing and great cinematography. He portrayed prison life in such a horrifying way, but not in terms of the physical pain but the stress and pain that wares mentally on the inmates, some of which deserve a second chance.

    Whatever you do, don't listen to the people who say this movie is overrated because this is one of the most inspiring and greatest movies ever. It has everything you could possibly want.
  • Can Hollywood, usually creating things for entertainment purposes only, create art? To create something of this nature, a director must approach it in a most meticulous manner, due to the delicacy of the process. Such a daunting task requires an extremely capable artist with an undeniable managerial capacity and an acutely developed awareness of each element of art in their films, the most prominent; music, visuals, script, and acting. These elements, each equally important, must succeed independently, yet still form a harmonious union, because this mixture determines the fate of the artist's opus. Though already well known amongst his colleagues for his notable skills at writing and directing, Frank Darabont emerges with his feature film directorial debut, The Shawshank Redemption. Proving himself already a master of the craft, Darabont managed to create one of the most recognizable independent releases in the history of Hollywood. The Shawshank Redemption defines a genre, defies the odds, compels the emotions, and brings an era of artistically influential films back to Hollywood.

    The story begins with the trial of a young banker, Andy Dufrense, victimized by circumstantial evidence, resulting in a conviction for the murder of his wife and her lover. After a quick conviction, Andy finds himself serving a life sentence at Shawshank prison, with no hope of parole. He exists in this prison only in appearance, keeping his mind free from the drab walls around him. His ability to do this results in the gaining of respect from his fellow inmates, but most of all from Ellis Redding. Ellis, commonly referred to as Red, finds gainful use of his entrepreneurial spirit within the drab walls of Shawshank by dealing in contraband and commodities rare to the confines of prison. Andy's demeanor and undeniable sense of hope causes Red to take a deeper look at himself, and the world around him. Andy proves to Red and the other inmates that in the conventional walls of Shawshank prison convention will find no home in his lifestyle.

    By creating the film's firm foundation, the meticulously chiseled screenplay paved the way for this film's success. Frank Darabont outdoes himself with the phenomenal adaptation of Stephen King's equally noteworthy novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. In this novella, King demonstrates that he can break free from the genre he dominates and still create a marvelous piece of modern literature. Though the film mirrors the novella in many ways, Darabont illustrates a focused objective of improving upon the areas where the novella came up short, resulting in one of the best book to film transitions ever.

    While maintaining some of the poetic and moving dialogue of the novella, Darabont also proves that a film's score can generate a great deal of emotional response from its audience, as dialogue does. He employs the cunning Thomas Newman, son of the legendary Hollywood composer, Alfred Newman. Darabont shows recognition for the film's needs by employing Newman, who makes the gentle piano chords whisper softly to the viewer, as if a part of the scripted dialogue. Newman lends himself to individualism and tends to drive more towards the unique in the realm of score composition. His effort in Shawshank did not go unnoticed, as his score received an Oscar nomination in 1995. While unique and independent, Newman's score never once intrudes on your concentration or distracts from the film.

    With work from vast array of talented scene designers, costume designers, composers, cinematographers, and various other Hollywood artists, the cast of The Shawshank Redemption had a strong foundation to work with. The marvelous cast of this film will dazzle you with some of the most convincing performances you will witness in a film. While both Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman shine as Andy and Red, respectively, the true spectacle of acting lies within the plethora of amazing supporting actors who easily disappear into their roles. Most noticeable of these, the veteran film star James Whitmore, who portrays the elderly Brooks Hatlen. Brooks, a man incarcerated for an unmentioned crime for so long that he finds himself attached to the Shawshank and the daily life he has lead. Each of these actors show a true dedication to their art, and a focused purpose in their motivations, creating a convincing setting that never once caters to anything unbelievable.

    With all of the aesthetic touches and attention to cinematic detail, the most beautiful part of the film lies within its thematic material, such as its focus on the human desires for the most abstract concepts, like hope and freedom. These themes, which concern things the human spirit undoubtedly yearns for, seem so intricately woven into the plot that it easily draws its audience in to its story. Though full of hardened criminals, your heart will go out to these men as they display the most basic of human emotions, and deliver some of the most quotable lines in a film to date. Like a great novel, this film manages to succeed at greater things than simply entertaining an audience. Darabont tells his story most masterfully, illustrating principles and inspiring his audience to think. He leaves us a poignant film with a powerful message of hope, and redemption, something we all seek.

    This film manages to redeem Hollywood in the eyes of people who feared it long lost in a dark sea of clichés and predictability. Darabont shows us that artists still work in the Hollywood studios and production facilities. These artists show their capability to produce art; real art that inspires you to look at the deeper aspects of life and the world around you. The Shawshank Redemption delivers much-needed breath of fresh air for anyone who realizes the capability of film. It proves that masters of the craft still live on this earth, and still bless us with timeless masterpieces that we will never forget.
  • EyeDunno21 November 2005
    I'm trying to save you money; this is the last film title that you should consider borrowing. Renting Shawshank will cost you five bucks... just plunk down the $25 and own the title. You'll wind up going back to this gem time and time again. This is one of few movies that are truly timeless. And it's entertaining and moving, no matter how many times you view it.

    Forget about what others (including myself) might suggest you'll discover in "The Shawshank Redemption;" when you watch it, you'll identify something very personal in your own life with a scene, a character, or a moment in this uncomplicated movie. When you need hope, you'll look for Shawshank. When you want to believe in the will of overcoming even the greatest obstacles, Shawshank will uplift you in ways that you can't find in movies today.

    Some liken the film to some kind of spiritual awakening. Of course, some can go to a church or mosque to find enlightenment and Faith in humanity, but most places of worship are open only certain days or times. But when you need affirmation of the lasting bond of friendships that prevail over the most dire circumstances, Shawshank will give it to you. It makes grown men (like me) cry, still. I wonder whether Shawshank was truly meant for viewing in the privacy of the home, because it is a personal experience that really makes you look inward. Nominated for seven, this is the best film that never one a single Oscar.

    How ironic that an innocent man winds up being surrounded by the corruption of the legal system. Shawshank itself is similar to the character of Andy Dufresne. Prejudging this classic film, critics couldn't get past the title. The public followed suit, initially dismissing Shawshank, which failed in the box office just like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Citizen Kane." It could have just whithered away on the store shelves, like Andy Dufresne could have in his own cell. But the characters prevailed, because Andy -- And Shawshank -- stayed true. Now, these movies are right up there as the most popular films of all time.

    Anyone who has yet to watch Shawshank may be so jaded of movies, or the film's title, or how a 2-1/2- hour movie set inside the walls of a prison can manage to tap the soul of such a wide range of people. Shawshank has not one explosion. I wonder if it even has a single special effect or digitally- enhanced frame.

    But every aspect of Shawshank fit together. The acting from the top to the bit part. The musical score. The editing. The photography. The story, from opening credits to final scene. All involved, including the town of Mansfield, Ohio (where Shawshank was actually filmed) played their roles perfectly. Shawshank is a must- see, must- own title.
  • The Shawshank Redemption is written and directed by Frank Darabont. It is an adaptation of the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. Starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, the film portrays the story of Andy Dufresne (Robbins), a banker who is sentenced to two life sentences at Shawshank State Prison for apparently murdering his wife and her lover. Andy finds it tough going but finds solace in the friendship he forms with fellow inmate, Ellis "Red" Redding (Freeman). While things start to pick up when the warden finds Andy a prison job more befitting his talents as a banker. However, the arrival of another inmate is going to vastly change things for all of them.

    There was no fanfare or bunting put out for the release of the film back in 94, with a title that didn't give much inkling to anyone about what it was about, and with Columbia Pictures unsure how to market it, Shawshank Redemption barely registered at the box office. However, come Academy Award time the film received several nominations, and although it won none, it stirred up interest in the film for its home entertainment release. The rest, as they say, is history. For the film finally found an audience that saw the film propelled to almost mythical proportions as an endearing modern day classic. Something that has delighted its fans, whilst simultaneously baffling its detractors. One thing is for sure, though, is that which ever side of the Shawshank fence you sit on, the film continues to gather new fans and simply will never go away.

    It's possibly the simplicity of it all that sends some haters of the film into cinematic spasms. The implausible plot and an apparent sentimental edge that makes a nonsense of prison life, are but two chief complaints from those that dislike the film with a passion. But when characters are this richly drawn, and so movingly performed, it strikes me as churlish to do down a human drama that's dealing in hope, friendship and faith. The sentimental aspect is indeed there, but that acts as a counterpoint to the suffering, degradation and shattering of the soul involving our protagonist. Cosy prison life you say? No chance. The need for human connection is never more needed than during incarceration, surely? And given the quite terrific performances of Robbins (never better) & Freeman (sublimely making it easy), it's the easiest thing in the world to warm to Andy and Red.

    Those in support aren't faring too bad either. Bob Gunton is coiled spring smarm as Warden Norton, James Whitmore is heart achingly great as the "Birdman Of Shawshank," Clancy Brown is menacing as antagonist Capt. Byron Hadley, William Sadler amusing as Heywood & Mark Rolston is impressively vile as Bogs Diamond. Then there's Roger Deakins' lush cinematography as the camera gracefully glides in and out of the prison offering almost ethereal hope to our characters (yes, they are ours). The music pings in conjunction with the emotional flow of the movie too. Thomas Newman's score is mostly piano based, dovetailing neatly with Andy's state of mind, while the excellently selected soundtrack ranges from the likes of Hank Williams to the gorgeous Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart.

    If you love Shawshank then it's a love that lasts a lifetime. Every viewing brings the same array of emotions - anger - revilement - happiness - sadness - inspiration and a warmth that can reduce the most hardened into misty eyed wonderment. Above all else, though, Shawshank offers hope - not just for characters in a movie, but for a better life and a better world for all of us. 10/10
  • tmac425 July 2001
    One of my all time favorites. Shawshank Redemption is a very moving story about hope and the power of friendship. The cast is first rate with everyone giving a great performance. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman carry the movie, but Bob Gunton and Clancy Brown are perfect as the Warden Norton and prison guard captain Hadley respectively. And James Whitmore's portrail of an elderly inmate Brooks is moving. The screenplay gives almost every actor at least one or more memorable lines through out the film. As well as a very surprising "twist" near the end that almost knocked me out of my chair. If you have not seen this movie rent it or better yet buy it. As I bet you'll want to see this one more than once.
  • Misery and Stand By Me were the best adaptations up until this one, now you can add Shawshank to that list.

    This is simply one of the best films ever made and I know I am not the first to say that and I certainly won't be the last. The standing on the IMDb is a true barometer of that. #3 as of this date and I'm sure it could be number 1. So I'll just skip all the normal praise of the film because we all know how great it is. But let me perhaps add that what I find so fascinating about Shawshank is that Stephen King wrote it.

    King is one of the best writers in the world. Books like IT and the Castle Rock series are some of the greatest stories ever told. But his best adaptations are always done by the best directors. The Shining was brilliantly interpreted by Kubrick and of course the aforementioned Misery and Stand By Me are both by Rob Reiner. Now Frank Darabont comes onto the scene and makes arguably the best King film ever. He seems to understand what King wants to say and he conveys that beautifully.

    What makes this film one of the best ever made is the message it conveys. It is one of eternal hope. Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, has been sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. But he never loses hope. He never gives up his quest to become a free man again. His years of tenacity, patience and wits keep him not only sane, but it gives his mind and a spirit a will to live. This film has a different feel to it. There has never been anything like it before and I don't know if there will again.

    I'm not going to say any more about this film, it has already been said, but just suffice to say that I am glad that Forrest Gump won best picture in 94. I would have been equally glad if Pulp Fiction or Shawshank would have won. It is that good of a movie and one that will be appreciated for years to come.
  • One of the finest films made in recent years. It's a poignant story about hope. Hope gets me. That's what makes a film like this more than a movie. It tells a lesson about life. Those are the films people talk about 50 or even 100 years from you. It's also a story for freedom. Freedom from isolation, from rule, from bigotry and hate. Freeman and Robbins are majestic in their performances. Each learns from the other. Their relationship is strong and you feel that from the first moment they make contact with one another. There is also a wonderful performance from legend James Whitmore as Brooks.

    He shines when it is his time to go back into the world, only to find that the world grew up so fast he never even got a chance to blink. Stephen King's story is brought to the screen with great elegance and excitement. It is an extraordinary motion that people "will" be talking about in 50 or 100 years.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The reason I became a member of this database is because I finally found a movie ranking that recognized the true greatness of this movie. There is nary a word or scene out of place in the entire thing. Every element comes together to form an exquisite story for cinema. I believe that one reason that this movie is under-appreciated is that people have not seen it multiple times. On first viewing it is the story of Andy Dufresne and his struggle to maintain hope despite his circumstances. However, this is really a movie about Red and his struggle to find meaning and purpose. The final segment of the movie testifies to the fact that the final resolution of the story comes about only when Red is faced with the same fearful situation as Brooks. Because of Andy, Red can find a different path-the path of freedom that is lit by hope. Who is your Andy Dufresne?
  • Whenever I talk about this movie with my friends, I do not even refer to it by title, but rather as "The Movie". When I say "The Movie", my friends know exactly what I'm talking about. In fact the main reason that me and my friends don't refer to it by title is because this movie is so great, that we do not feel worthy enough to say it's name in vain! I still remember the first time I saw The Shawshank Redemption. Some friends of mine and I went to see it at one of those "Budget Theaters" over the summer of 1995. None of us really knew anything about the movie, but we had heard that it was pretty good. So, not having any real expectations, we saw it. When the final credits rolled and the lights came on in the theater, all of us just sat there with our jaws hanging down on the floor. I turned my head towards my friend Bob and said "That was the greatest movie I have ever seen in my entire life!" There's really no other way I can put it in words. Every moment of this movie captivated me and inspired me to believe in the one true thing in life...... "HOPE". This movie is sad, uplifting, inspiring, harsh, cold, funny (at the right times), jaw-dropping, and heart-warming all at the same time. I get chills every time I watch this film and this film contains the greatest ending (which takes place over the last 30 minutes or so)in movie history! How it all just "comes together" is so incredible and uplifting. I should also mention the music in this movie is nearly flawless as well, and the soundtrack is a "must buy" for any music fan. The only bad thing about this movie is the fact that I know I will never see a better movie, no matter how many I may see. I've seen many movies over the past few years, many excellent films. However, every time I walk out of the theater, I turn to my friend or family member that I saw it with and I say, "That was a great movie, but it wasn't nearly as good as 'you know what'!" There have been many movies over the past few years that thought would really move me or that I might one day call my "favorite of all time", but they've all fallen far short of "The Shawshank Redemption". So, if you have yet to see this movie, please run to the video store immediately. You're guaranteed to find it in the "employee picks" section. And if it isn't in that section, then you should tell the employees there that there is something seriously wrong with them. If you have seen this movie, go see it again. If you haven't bought your own copy yet, buy one. In fact buy two, and put one in a fire-proof safe, just in case of an emergency. :o) So, you want a 1-10 rating??? I give it a 13!!!!!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Shawshank Redemption is without a doubt one of the most brilliant movies I have ever seen. Similar to The Green Mile in many respects (and better than it in almost all of them), these two movies have shown us that Stephen King is a master not only of horror but also of prose that shakes the soul and moves the heart. The plot is average, but King did great things with it in his novella that are only furthered by the direction, and the acting is so top-rate it's almost scary.

    Tim Robbins plays Andy Dufrane, wrongly imprisoned for 20 years for the murder of his wife. The story focuses on Andy's relationship with "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman, in probably his best role) and his attempts to escape from Shawshank. Bob Gunton is positively evil and frightening as Warden Norton, and there are great performances and cameos all around; the most prominent one being Gil Bellows (late as Billy of Ally McBeal) as Tommy, a fellow inmate of Andy's who suffers under the iron will of Norton.

    If you haven't seen this movie, GO AND RENT IT NOW. You will not be disappointed. It is positively the best movie of the '90's, and one of my Top 3 of all time. This movie is a spectacle to move the mind, soul, and heart. 10/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I believe that this film is the best story ever told on film, and I'm about to tell you why.

    Tim Robbins plays Andy Dufresne, a city banker, wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. He is sent to Shawshank Prison in 1947 and receives a double life sentence for the crime. Andy forms an unlikely friendship with "Red" (Morgan Freeman), the man who knows how to get things. Andy faces many trials in prison, but forms an alliance with the wardens because he is able to use his banking experience to help the corrupt officials amass personal fortunes. The story unfolds....

    I was so impressed with how every single subplot was given a great deal of respect and attention from the director. The acting was world-class. I have never seen Tim Robbins act as well since, Morgan Freeman maybe (e.g. Seven). The twists were unexpected, an although this film had a familiar feel, it wasn't even slightly pretentious or cliched, it was original. The cinematography was grand and expressive. It gave a real impression of the sheer magnitude of this daunting prison.

    But the one thing which makes THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION stand above all other films, is the attention given to the story. The film depends on the story and the way in which it unravels. It's a powerful, poignant, thought-provoking, challenging film like no other. If Andy were to comment on this film, I think he might say: "Get busy watching, or get busy dying." Take his advice.

    Thoroughly recommended.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    **Yes, there are SPOILERS here**

    This film has had such an emotional impact on me, I find it hard to write comments on it. I've read a lot of the previous comments; all those that gush and eulogise as well as those who think it's over-rated or cliched. Most have got good points to make, however the thing that I think everyone is struggling to both explain and come to terms with is just why this film is *so* loved. Loved to the extent that for many it is an almost spiritual experience or for those of a more secular nature like myself, loved as one of the most devastatingly uplifting things that can happen to you while watching a film.

    So I'm not going to review it, I'm just going to struggle in my own way to explain this film. It took me a few viewings to get why I connect with it so deeply, but here goes.

    Many people in this world are unhappy. Most people in this world don't want to be unhappy. Lots of people wish, pray and above all hope for that magic wand to wave and wash them of their fears, losses, angers and pains once and for all. They see lots of other people seemingly in this magical state, while they suffer. To borrow the words of another film, they're watching the bluebirds flying over the rainbow.

    Many unhappy people have learned that the magic wand doesn't exist. They're not destined to join the bluebirds and fairytales don't come true. It's not that no one lives happily ever after, it's just that they're not going to. They're busy dying.

    In this film, or as some people have quite correctly said, this fairytale, magic wands exist. And that magic wand is Andy Dufrense imitating Houdini. However this film is not about him. Neither is it about the prison, the governor, the guard, the plot, the acting, the cinematography, the script, the direction or the score.

    It's about Red. He is the one who has become institutionally unhappy, he's not only trapped in a prison, not only has he given up on the idea of ever leaving, not only does he have no hope, he knows that if the miracle would ever happen to him, he couldn't cope. He's safe in his unhappiness and that security is what keeps him going. Hope is, as Red say, dangerous. The metaphor for a certain illness here is very clear to me and I know that a rather large number of people suffer from it. A large proportion of those don't understand what's wrong, but they certainly can recognise a fellow sufferer. Those who are mercifully untouched by this illness definitely don't understand what's going on in those who do. They're too busy living.

    The miracle in this film is not only that Red is redeemed but that the world outside the prison isn't all warm and sandy and sunny and with excellent fishing. Some of it is rocky and uncertain. Fairytales don't get this far. They'd end as Red left the gates of the prison and the credits would say 'and he lived happily ever after'. This is the only film I can currently think of where they show how to get to the living happily ever after bit from your redemption via the rocky and uncertain ground of bagging groceries at the local store. In other words, they're not going to cheat you and tell you everything's going to be alright.

    This is crucial. For two and half hours, those of us who are quite content to mooch around our own personal prisons can see an escape route quite different to Andy's mapped out on the screen. And it's a real way out. It's hard and upsetting, but ultimately rewarding. The high you get from finding out and knowing that is only comparable diamorphine.

    The trouble is, if you're already busy living, this film won't mean that much and you'll see it a little more clearly than those busy dying. To those fortunate individuals, watch this film and understand what the rest of us are going through.

    So, yes, this film is a cliched fairytale and maybe as a story it isn't realistic and at second on the IMDb all time list, it is a bit over-rated. However if you could have a chart of films listing the number of lives saved, altered and improved, the Shawshank Redemption would be way out in front at number one.
  • My life is forever changed due to this movie. It is a movie of hope, "redemption", and friendship. It shows a deep growing friendship between two prisoners, Andy and Red. They each are shown growing through their distinct hardships at Shawshank prison. As time passes, hope wanes but a flame burns bright in Andy. His hope and unrelentless nature carry over to his friend Red.

    As Red's long stay in prison comes to an end he sees the light at the end of the tunnel. Andy has left it for him to see the way to freedom, and he follows it.

    This film parallels my life and leaves me wondering if my advice will help somebody see the light. For some of those people time will tell. As for now I'll be patient to wait and see. Don't end up like Brooks, there will always be someone to help you out. There is someone out there that cares for you. Thank you Andy Dufresne, your hope is the flame of my life.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    At the heart of this extraordinary movie is a brilliant and indelible performance by Morgan Freeman as Red, the man who knows how to get things, the "only" guilty man at Shawshank prison. He was nominated by the Academy for Best Actor in 1995 but didn't win. (Tom Hanks won for Forrest Gump.) What Freeman does so beautifully is to slightly underplay the part so that the eternal boredom and cynicism of the lifer comes through, and yet we can see how very much alive with the warmth of life the man is despite his confinement. Someday Morgan Freeman is going to win an Academy Award and it will be in belated recognition for this performance, which I think was a little too subtle for some Academy members to fully appreciate at the time.

    But Freeman is not alone. Tim Robbins plays the hero of the story, banker Andy Dufresne, who has been falsely convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. Robbins has a unique quality as an actor in that he lends ever so slightly a bemused irony to the characters he plays. It is as though part of him is amused at what he is doing. I believe this is the best performance of his career, but it might be compared with his work in The Player (1992), another excellent movie, and in Mystic River (2003) for which he won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor.

    It is said that every good story needs a villain, and in the Bible-quoting, Bible-thumping, massively hypocritical, sadistic Warden Samuel Norton, played perfectly by Bob Gunton, we have a doozy. I want to tell you that Norton is so evil that fundamentalist Christians actually hate this movie because of how precisely his vile character is revealed. They also hate the movie because of its depiction of violent, predatory homosexual behavior (which is the reason the movie is rated R). On the wall of his office (hiding his safe with its ill-gotten contents and duplicitous accounts) is a framed plaque of the words "His judgment cometh and that right soon." The irony of these words as they apply to the men in the prison and ultimately to the warden himself is just perfect. You will take delight, I promise.

    Here is some other information about the movie that may interest you. As most people know, it was adapted from a novella by Stephen King entitled "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption." Rita Hayworth figures in the story because Red procures a poster of her for Andy that he pins up on the wall of his cell. The poster is a still from the film Gilda (1946) starring her and Glenn Ford. We see a clip from the black and white film as the prisoners watch, cheering and hollering when Rita Hayworth appears. If you haven't seen her, check out that old movie. She really is gorgeous and a forerunner of Marilyn Monroe, who next appears on Andy's wall in a still from The Seven Year Itch (1955). It's the famous shot of her in which her skirt is blown up to reveal her shapely legs. Following her on Andy's wall (and, by the way, these pinups figure prominently in the plot) is Rachel Welsh from One Million Years B.C. (1966). In a simple and effective device these pinups show us graphically how long Andy and Red have been pining away.

    Frank Darabont's direction is full of similar devices that clearly and naturally tell the story. There is Brooks (James Whitmore) who gets out after fifty years but is so institutionalized that he can't cope with life on the outside and hangs himself. Playing off of this is Red's periodic appearance before the parole board where his parole is summarily REJECTED. Watch how this plays out at the end.

    The cinematography by Roger Deakins is excellent. The editing superb: there's not a single dead spot in the whole movie. The difference between the good guys (Red, Andy, Brooks, etc.) and the bad guys (the warden, the guards, the "sisters," etc.) is perhaps too starkly drawn, and perhaps Andy is a bit too heroic and determined beyond what might be realistic, and perhaps the "redemption" is a bit too miraculous in how beautifully it works out. But never mind. We love it.

    All in all this is a great story vividly told that will leave you with a true sense of redemption in your soul. It is not a chick flick, and that is an understatement. It is a male bonding movie about friendship and the strength of character, about going up against what is wrong and unfair and coming out on top through pure true grit and a little luck.

    Bottom line: one of the best ever made, currently rated #2 (behind The Godfather) at the IMDb. Don't miss it.

    (Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
  • hjpog13 December 2015
    It is one of the best movies in the world that many people will join me. Watching very, very impressed. What it might be called the great stories of Stephen King anyway. Acting on cues can say is enormous. There's no posturing. Especially when Andy Dufrense incredible music that review still stands wandering on everyone's lips. Finale as you lose yourself in it is a movie you are getting into. Finals if he so exhilarating you a high-quality music. And finding that deserves really deserve. I watched this film very young age and it has taught me that the magic of cinema in a nice way. This film is one of the reasons I hate the Oscars. Will remain as the best film in more than 10 years, I believe wholeheartedly sites. Definitely one of the best films in the world.
  • shiny-metal-ass25 December 2008
    Three words: Oh. My. God.

    How am i supposed to describe this absolutely fantastic and unbelievable film in words? I don't know. But I'll give it a shot. Here goes.

    This movie is just bloody excellent, brilliant, fantastic, unbelievable, not a thing wrong with it, shocking (in a good way), heck, pretty much every single good comment word you can think of.

    I mean, for gods sake, its so damn good it takes your breath away! i seriously could not speak after it! it instantly took every other film i had seen under its shadow, and that's saying something, as i have seen some pretty excellent films.

    There's not a single actor or actress in this movie who is crap!!! standouts are Morgan freeman, Tim Robbins, and the dude who plays brooks.

    I could say 1239643609260246704272628xinfinity more things good about this movie, but unfortunately I haven't got that much space, and my fingers would get sore.

    An absolute must see for everyone, and I'm positive that ill never see another movie better than this, and this will stay at #1 on my list forever.
  • We have all see movies, comedies, action and dramas. We all liked ones, hated others, got into some other even and felt like part of it. In Shawshank Redemption; you start slowly, after a while you get attached, by the time you reach the middle of the movie you simply totally forget about anything outside the screen and feel a mixed stream of emotions going through you head before anything else! then comes a last 20 minutes of heart storming that is surely enough to raise the adrenaline to extreme levels even in diabetics! I felt warm, strong, happy and all other emotions one can think of, I felt I was the one who won, who got out of prison, i was simply fully satisfied.

    This movie must be used as an Anti-depression by therapists! this movie proves that Oscars are either money bought gifts! or that who ever in charge of them are so smart that they couldn't give any Oscar to The Shawshank Redemption knowing that the movie is on different - much higher- rating scale than the Oscars.. it's simply over qualified!
  • This touching and heart warming film is the most perfect celebration of the human spirit I have seen. Andy Dufresne, wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, finds the strength not only to change himself, but to bring hope to those around him in Shawshank Prison. This inspiring story is interwoven with a soundtrack which invokes every emotion, from haunting and chilling, to stirring and beautiful. When you go to see a movie and it touches you with its poetry, music, and its atmosphere, and leaves you with a sense of victorious satisfaction, it is a triumph. Field of Dreams was the first movie which invoked these emotions in me. Shawshank Redemption is even more powerful for its simplicity. It doesn't pretend to be clean, nor could it be called a family movie. It is brutal and violent at times, horrifying and sickening at others. However the title says it all. Redemption is what this story is all about. And it is not necessarily redemption for the actual crimes you might have committed, but it is redemption for the way you have lived your life. What emerges can only be called a maginificent piece of art. This is what movies were meant to be.
  • I was a little surprised at first to see this film ranked #1 out of all possible candidates in the IMDB user ratings. When I thought about it, though, it made more sense--this is a "Rocky"-type feel-good movie that doesn't really make you think and reinforces what we would all like to believe about human nature. Don't get me wrong--it's a fine film (I gave it a solid 7 out of 10), it's just not, in my view, up there with _Casablanca_ and _The Graduate_.

    I guess the main problem I have with _Shawshank_ is the nature of the script and characters. Think about it: is there a single person in the film who isn't a one-dimensional cardboard cut-out with very simple motivations, or a Hollywood cliche or stereotype? We have (in no particular order), a corrupt, bigoted prison warden (who is a religious hypocrite for good measure), a brutal prison guard, a man who is wrongly accused of murder, an old convict who knows all the ropes and can't live on the outside, and a convict who is murdered by the brutal guards. Now where have we seen this stuff before? Only in a few dozen movies made from the 20s to the 90s. There's really nothing new here. Probably this comes from the fact that the story is from Stephen King, who doesn't really do well with complex characters (a problem I noted as far back as _Carrie_).

    If you want to see a good prison picture, try _Cool Hand Luke_ (from which this movie borrows considerably). If you want an escape picture, see either _The Great Escape_ or _Papillon_, both with Steve McQueen. Or if, by some chance, you want a crime and punishment movie that really makes you think, go with the late great Stanley Kubrick's _A Clockwork Orange_.

    I couldn't stop thinking about the warden: doesn't he have a family? How did they feel? What are they going to do now? I realize the story is inside the prison, but I wish the movie had made better use of its characters than simply as simple-minded symbols of EVIL or VIRTUE.

    I'm not Mr. Cranky, I did enjoy the movie, but I enjoyed it the same way I do an Italian dinner at the Olive Garden--a well-constructed genre product with nothing special to commend it.
  • It's times like these that almost tempt me to grab Jigsaw off the shelf. It's been almost a month since I saw a film that was flatout bad; the worst review I've given in weeks was a 6/10 to Flightplan. This film obviously didn't break my streak.

    I went into it knowing next to nothing, only that IMDb has it ranked as the second best movie of all time, that it was based on a story by Stephen King, and that it took place in a prison. Needless to say, it blew me away. I wont say a thing about the plot, just so that others who've yet to see this film have a chance at the same experience as me. I will say this though: It has some of the most subtle and unexpected twists you will ever see. One in particular stands out above the rest.

    Not much can be said about the actors that hasn't been said. Morgan Freeman gives one of the best performances of his career, and even though I've only seen 2 or 3 other Tim Robbins movies, I'm sure the same can be said for him.

    Though I don't agree with the multitudes of people that call this the best movie ever made, it was still a very good, very well made, very entertaining and almost heartbreaking film.

    9/10
  • mocpacific3 June 2010
    I still can't quite get the enormous reputation of this film. I saw it again last night and instead of clearing up the mystery, the mystery got thicker. It is enjoyable film with very good performances by Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, James Whitmore etc, but...the most highly rated film ever? I don't get it. The voice over alone seems to belong to a so so film. I love Morgan Freeman's voice but he's telling us what we're seeing. So, the sterling reputation damages the enjoyment of the film because one is expecting something that never, really, arrives. The most interesting aspect is Tim Robbins's psychological journey. Credible or incredible doesn't quite matter, I did go with him without asking too many questions. Morgan Freeman's humanity is contagious and inspiring, whether credible or not because I bought it. So, a masterpiece? No. Good, even very good? Yes.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In recent years the IMDB top 250 movies has had THE GODFATHER at number 1 while THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION has remained at number 2 . The only exception was early in 2002 when FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING topped the chart for a couple of months then dropped down to number 2 for a couple of more months . I`ll probably make myself very unpopular for saying this but I don`t think SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION deserves to be so high

    !!!!!! SPOILERS !!!!!!

    What I don`t like about it is the amount of cliches . New prisoner arrives and finds a maggot in his food , prison cliche 37 . New prisoner gives maggot to old prisoner to feed his pet bird , prison cliche 43 . It`s revealed at the end that the prisoner who has spent so many years inside is innocent after all , prison cliche numero uno . Did anyone believe during any part of this movie that Andy Dufresne was guilty ? Neither did I . Maybe that`s why I love the American prison series OZ because all the inmates there are totally guilty . There`s other things wrong with the movie . It`s about half an hour overlong , and there`s rather unrealistic bits like the warder having someone killed after finding out Dufresne is probably innocent. Oh and how many prison friendships has there been between a black man and a white man ?

    Maybe that last point shouldn`t be taken as a criticism because the performances of Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins are very good and make the movie . Neither of them give a flashy performance ( Again not a criticism ) but both are very subtle in their roles , can you imagine how different this movie would have been if we`d had Tom Cruise and Denzil Washington as the stars ? Perhaps because Freeman`s character of Red does seem to have been written as a white character he`s so good in the role . Am I alone in thinking Freeman has been the best black actor in Hollywood for the last decade because he`s more interested in exploring the character instead of playing someone who`s black ?

    There`s also some outstanding touches from director Frank Darabont . Witness the scene early in the film where Andy spends his first night in prison with the darkness falling upon the prisoners faces . It`s almost like the artwork of Andy Dogg as the prisoners look out onto the landing as they search for fresh prey , and there is quite a touching sequence as Red leaves prison out into the harsh outside world to the strains of Thomas Newman`s score

    I gave THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION eight out of ten . It is a classic feel good movie but unfortunately being a cynic I do think it`s slightly overrated by IMDB voters
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