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Year:
1994
Country:
USA
Genre:
Crime, Drama
IMDB rating:
9.3
Director:
Frank Darabont
Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne
Morgan Freeman as Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding
Bob Gunton as Warden Norton
William Sadler as Heywood
Clancy Brown as Captain Hadley
Gil Bellows as Tommy
Mark Rolston as Bogs Diamond
James Whitmore as Brooks Hatlen
Jeffrey DeMunn as 1946 D.A.
Neil Giuntoli as Jigger
Brian Libby as Floyd
David Proval as Snooze
Joseph Ragno as Ernie
Jude Ciccolella as Guard Mert
Joe Ragno as Ernie
Storyline: Chronicles the experiences of a formerly successful banker as a prisoner in the gloomy jailhouse of Shawshank after being found guilty of a crime he did not commit. The film portrays the man's unique way of dealing with his new, torturous life; along the way he befriends a number of fellow prisoners, most notably a wise long-term inmate named Red.
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Reviews
Superb prison buddy story - but sadly unimportant film
If you simply see this as a straightforward storytelling prison film, then it is excellent (10/10) because it truly gets you involved in its main character. It is an extremely enjoyable and compelling experience with a heartfelt and well-acted buddy-story at its core. It delicately--and sometimes brutally--juxtaposes Andy Dufresne's (Tim Robbins) good-natured character with the harshness of prison life, projecting so much heart in doing so.

However delightful as it is, The Shawshank Redemption has no allegories and no statements to make and it brought nothing new to cinema in either style or substance. It had no revolutionary ideas or approaches - it's only a very safe buddy-story. A damn good one, but still just that. So it can impossibly be a film that will be remembered or studied, because what will it be remembered for? Friendship? Huh, neat. I therefore don't think it's entirely deserving of being considered the #2 greatest film of all time on IMDb.com.

But moving on and looking past that, it is possibly one of my all-time favourite films for the feelings it leaves. Sure, it often jerks you for tears just a bit too purposely, but this is forgivable because emotion is crucial to a prison story. On top of that, it never falls prey to predictable sappiness - probably because of its content which is devoid of sentimental romance and instead fills you up with a tragic friendship. It is so well-sewn together by a feel-good narrative by Morgon Freeman that it is impossible not to enjoy this film.

9/10
2006-08-13
Great story, wondrously told and acted
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!)
2004-05-20
NOT just a prison movie
A film about a Stephen King story? Directed by Frank Darabont. . . Who? Starring Tim Robbins. . . Wasn't he the guy from Howard the Duck? I admit, only the sublime acting talents of Morgan Freeman took me along to see this movie. Now the only questions I have to ask are: Why didn't EVERYBODY go to see this movie? and, Why didn't Morgan Freeman win the Oscar? Tom Hanks is a fine actor but, he should never have beaten Morgan. Once again a Stephen King short story translates to film better than his horror opus'. Tim Robbins pulls out his finest performance to date, and, Mr Darabont take a bow. Very rarely are you left with a large smile and warm heart at the end of a movie but, I could have danced as the camera slowly panned back from the beach. . . Perfect.
1998-08-07
What More Can I Say?
There are only a handful of films that have shaken me to my core and continued to resonate with me for very long after their first viewing. I can happily say that "The Shawshank Redemption" has stuck to me since I finished watching it for the first time, and instantly rocketed up my Top 10 Films list.

Most great films have one or two obvious flaws that can be easily picked out - not so in "Shawshank", at least not to me. The hefty run time doesn't put me off because the story and characters are just so well rounded and so easy to return to time and time again.

"Shawshank" is one of those films that I would love to experience for the first time all over again. The thrill of emotions and the highs and lows I felt that first time are incomparable to much else.

In my opinion, "Forrest Gump" was not as deserving of the Best Picture Oscar as this. The timeless feel of a story of friendship in a hopeless place will likely continue to capture generations of people for years to come.
2014-05-20
Over Rated
There is no denying that this is a very good movie. The acting is great and it tells a good story.

Personally, I find it a bit too long and a little too sweet for my taste, but its far from a bad film.

On the other end of the spectrum I have yet to understand why this film was nominated for as many Oscars as it was and why so many people have fallen in love with it. To place it on the same level as The Godfather and several hundred other films has to be the result of different tastes.

This is a film that should be seen because its a good movie, not because its a great one.
2004-04-24
You'll get it when you see it.
A very, very, very brilliant film. The acting is superb from Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, as always. The script was amazing, along with the directing. The film is one of the best films ever made due to how original it is. And the reason it is original is because it is a prison film with heart. It makes you care about criminals. The score is also very good.

It's an enthralling piece of cinema and just... Amazing. I'd recommend this film to anyone due to everyone relating to it. People like films were you are sympathetic towards a criminal, just look at A Clockwork Orange.
2012-06-14
This is How Movies Should Be Made
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.
2008-02-18
The shortest long movie I've ever seen. Kept me wanting more and more, minute by minute.
At first, before starting the movie, I thought "Sounds like a typical prison riot and break-out kind of movie". At the beginning of the movie, my thoughts was even more convincing. A large prison (Which immediately reminded me of the movie "The Last Castle" from 2001), housing people of all sorts, having it's guards, warden and of course, the inmates. The typical inmate; Roughneck, hard on the outside, broken on the inside. And they all claim their innocence, as an internal joke sort of speak.

It gets to a point where I started comparing it with others. That proved wrong in quite a short while, from the point where a prisoner, framed for murder of his wife and her lover, is being convicted and sentenced to life in prison. His name was Andy Dufresne. In short terms, a straight-up bank employee, excellent with numbers and taxes, which he also uses to benefit within the walls of the prison. His reputation as a numerological genius spreads out, and soon all kinds of people, inmates and guards, are coming to him for financial advice. He builds up a library, he maintains a strict surface. He has his hobbies, to keep his mind busy (as said in the movie). He carves chess pieces out of stone, using an axe as the tool. Seemingly, this is a nice and lucrative hobby, but underneath it all, he has a secret...

The movie keeps the viewer thrilled and excited, because in every minute, something could happen. The dialog is good, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, both great actors, shows and outstanding play. The crew really did good work on the set, the right camera angles, the light, sounds and so on...it was almost like I could smell the prison!

A brilliant movie. Not too short, not too long. It's worth every minute watching! My highest recommendation for those who like drama, action and humor.
2002-12-20
Absolutely brilliant
The Shawshank Redemption is one of the few movies adapted from books that turned out to be good .. or in, this case, brilliant.

Although the movie supposedly takes place somewhen in the 1950's, I can easily imagine it being transferred to today's time and standards. The thing that is most fascinating about is is that the directors [and writers, of course] didn't use extreme clichés - there's no black and white painting, just numerous shades of grey. Robbins and Freeman both are perfect for their roles, as are all of the supporting actors.

Finally, I can understand why a certain movies gets a high ranking.
1998-12-25
So it's not everyday that you watch the greatest movie of your lifetime.
I will always remember the night I watched this movie for the first time. I was 16-years-old and my dad and I were pretty bored late on a school night. So naturally I say to my father, "Dad, I think it's time to watch Shawshank". I almost regret watching it. It is that good. It's like nothing I ever see in my lifetime can ever compare to the emotional roller coaster that 'The Shawshank Redemption' takes you on.

First question I usually ask people when discussing films is, "So have you seen Shawshank?". No matter what their reply is I am happy with the outcome because if they say no, then they are yet to see the greatest movie of all time. If they say yes, I have something to talk to them about for the next 27 minutes.

You probably still won't believe me when I tell you that this is the greatest film you will ever see. It's that good that I actually told one of my friends not to watch it until she was on her deathbed. Then she will see this movie without ever having to compare anything else to it. Now when I see a movie all I think is, I've already seen the best.

Now actually getting onto maybe even reviewing this masterpiece (not that any summary of the plot could ever do it justice). So all I will say is this, I have never heard anyone give this movie a bad review. Do yourself a favour and don't even bother to finish reading this. Just go and watch it.
2012-03-19
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