87. The Shawshank Redemption

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Movie: The Shawshank Redemption

Release Date: September 23, 1994

Director: Frank Darabont

Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, James Whitmore.

Tag Lines: “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.”

Relevance: As mentioned a few times on this blog (see 152. Carrie, 178. The Mist, 184. Stand By Me, 218. Misery and 256. The Green Mile), Stephen King was a pretty big influence in my life. I own many of his books and have read even more, although I haven’t read all of them (yet). “Different Seasons” was one that I did read. It was a collection of four novellas including “The Body,” which was adapted into ‘Stand By Me’ and “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.”

‘The Shawshank Redemption’ was released in the Fall of 1994 to critical praise, however not many people went to see it during its theatrical run. Thanks to its seven Academy Award nominations though, it had a tremendous life on home media becoming the most rented film of 1995. That was how I finally got to see the film. I was starting my second year of Graduate School when it was in theaters and although I was aware of its release, I never got the chance to actually go out and see it. Damn academic priorities. So as soon as my local Blockbuster store had a copy, I eagerly went out to rent and watch the acclaimed drama.

‘The Shawshank Redemption’ was the first Stephen King story that director Frank Darabont adapted, later tackling ‘The Green Mile’ and ‘The Mist,’ and arguably it is his greatest. I was completely enthralled by its story though familiar with it and was especially taken by the performances by Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. It was moving, beautifully shot and its message of hope was one that caused many a tear. It was a movie that as soon as it became available to buy, I did so, eventually owning it on DVD.

There are very few films over two hours and twenty-two minutes that I will watch over and over again, but ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is one of them. I have recommended this film to absolutely everyone and have watched it with family and friends, always thanking me for bringing it to their attention. I honestly have never met anyone who has seen the film who is not affected by it in some way, shape or form. It is a brilliant work of art and one that proudly stands in my top one hundred films of all time.

Today’s Thoughts: “Sometimes it makes me sad, though… Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.”

I watched ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ sometime last year when it was on AMC. Of course it was edited but still lasted over three hours due to commercials. I didn’t care. I love the movie and will watch it every time I see that it is playing. Today, curled up on my couch in my robe and pajamas with my cup of coffee, I pressed play on my Blu-ray player and revisited my friends at Shawshank State Penitentiary.

I adore this film and I am always brought to tears by the time it is over. It is so beautifully directed by Mr. Darabont and the performances by its two leads are nothing short of perfection. The friendship and chemistry that Mr. Robbins and Mr. Freeman have on the screen is palpable. The actors completely disappear in their roles and I am captivated by their story. The entire ensemble is superb and more than effective in this prison crime drama.

‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is a gorgeous film. It was recognized by the United States Library of Congress for film preservation in the National Film Registry in 2015, and rightfully so. Stephen King is a master storyteller and although I am mostly attracted to his scares and monsters, this story proves that he knows how to write wonderful characters, colorful, original characters, filled with hope. 2020 is a year that we all need a little hope that life will get better. I recommend reading Mr. King’s novella or watching this film. After drying my eyes today with some Kleenex, I am at least hopeful.

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

Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Morgan Freeman (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, Frank Darabont (nomination), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Roger Deakins (nomination), Academy Award for Best Sound, Robert J. Litt, Elliot Tyson, Michael Herbick (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Richard Francis-Bruce (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, Thomas Newman (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Morgan Freeman (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, Frank Darabont (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, Morgan Freeman (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, Tim Robbins (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Frank Darabont (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Film Registry (2015), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, Frank Darabont (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Philo, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Vudu, DVD Availability.

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