STARRING: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, Mark Rolston, James Whitmore and Jeffrey DeMunn
EARNED (Worldwide): $58.5m
AWARDS: None (7 Oscar Nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Film Editing and Best Original Score and 2 Golden Globe Nominations for Best Actor and Best Screenplay)
Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.
The Shawshank Redemption to the late 1940’s in Portland, Maine, where banker Andy Dufresne is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, sentenced to life imprisonment at Shawshank State Penitentiary. We follow Andy befriend fellow inmates, particularly one known as Red, and adapt to life in prison and how determined he is to find a way to live inside the prison walls as well as find a way to make a life outside of it.
There were a few things that became crystal clear once The Shawshank Redemption had finished its cinematic release. One was that Morgan Freeman, when required, should be used to narrate mostly anything for the remainder of his career due to his soothing voice. The other was that it just didn’t take off as well in terms of box office numbers at the time. Though through critical acclaim and word of mouth, Shawshank Redemption is always mentioned when bringing up top favourite film lists and often some would argue that it is the greatest film ever made. While I don’t agree with it being the greatest film ever made (subjective and all that), it’s definitely a thoroughly engaging film that you have to appreciate what Darabont achieved directing this adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, which happens to be the best Stephen King adaptation brought to the big screen. The films protagonist is Andy Dufresne, a banker given two life sentences for the murder of his wife and her lover. We’re never shown their murder from his point of view because after all, he’s innocent….as is every other inmate at Shawshank State Penitentiary. There he befriends a group of inmates there, most notably is fellow lifer Ellis Boyd Redding, mostly referred to as Red and in his own words the only guilty man in Shawshank. The story has taken to peoples hearts for how incredibly uplifting it actually is of the human spirit as Andy attempts to maintain his integrity and moral compass in an environment that tries to strip it away from him, while the redemption angle actually focuses on Red himself and his journey, with the duo of Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman being perfectly cast in the roles of Andy and Red. Also just as memorable is the supporting cast, from fellow inmates portrayed by William Sadler as Heywood to James Whitmore as one of the oldest convicts Brooks, to those that are in charge of what happens at the prison, from Clancy Brown’s memorable impression as the sadistic guard Captain Hadley to Bob Gunton as Warden Samuel Norton, who the devout Christian yet corrupt ruthless ruler of the prison. With a well rounded screenplay and great performances, regardless of what your viewpoint is in its stance in the greatest of all time lists, The Shawshank Redemption will leave an everlasting impression.
FAVOURITE SCENE: The scene where we follow Brooks on the outside and how he tries to adjust to life after prison.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘Get busy living, or get busy dying.’ – Andy Dufresne
DID YOU KNOW?: Andy and Red’s opening chat in the prison yard – in which Red is pitching a baseball – took 9 hours to shoot. Morgan Freeman pitched that baseball for the entire 9 hours without a word of complaint. He showed up for work the next day with his arm in a sling. Stephen King sold the film rights for his novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” for $5,000. He never cashed the check. Years after Shawshank came out, the author got the check framed and mailed it back to the director Frank Darabont with a note inscribed: “In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.” At the end of the movie, there is a dedication to Allen Greene. He was Frank Darabont’s agent and also a close personal friend. He died just before the completion of the movie due to AIDS complications.