This is one of those films that everyone has seen, or at least heard of. Whether it is your preferred genre or not, I would recommend it for everyone. Not only is this an engaging and entertaining film, but it is an important commentary on a serious theme. I rate it three out of five stars. Warning: do not read this review if you have not seen the film, and don’t want to be spoiled!
The Shawshank Redemption tells the tale of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), who, despite claiming to be innocent, is imprisoned for the murder of his wife and her lover (two life sentences). During his stay at Shawshank State Prison, Andy meets Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding (Morgan Freeman). Andy is recruited by the Warden to work on the prison guard’s personal finances in exchange for protection, but this saving grace is not all it’s cracked up to be. When Andy has a chance to clear his name and leave prison, his importance to the Warden – and all the information he has – is too good to lose. With freedom and life on the outside too alluring, Andy turns the long years into his escape, disappearing with all the proof he needs to bring the criminal prison-runners to justice.
It’s hard to judge originality on a film and story that has been a classic for many years; you’re more likely to find things that have tried to ‘homage’ Shawshank. This story is more than just a prison drama. It is an intelligent piece that makes us think about what lengths people will go to when their whole world is changed.
I couldn’t imagine anyone else in these roles. I’m not sure how they prepared for the parts, but I’m glad they did it. This is also a testament to the original novella, and the script (written by Frank Darabont). The character arcs were thorough, the emotions were compelling, and the action was engaging.
It feels almost strange to include talk of scenery and costumes in such a dramatically-intense film, but it really did help add to the overall atmosphere. It had a real feel of authenticity.
Due to its prison theme alone, this film is going to be popular for many years. The problem of someone of authority (especially law enforcement) who abuses their position, will always be a worry. Irregardless of age, country, or gender, it is a common fear.
Much like in a lot of creative works, The Shawshank Redemption wasn’t initially well-received. Despite being a box-office let-down, critics and audiences alike have had nothing but praise for this classic. The years have also not dampened its appeal, with The Shawshank Redemption being used in high-school and university study courses to this day.
It was kind of hard for me to rate this only three out of five stars. On the one hand, I know it is a classic, but it is also not the best film I have seen. If you’re one of those people that prefer reading to watching a film adaptation, then why not also check out the Stephen King novella ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption’. Though I haven’t read King’s story, you can be sure they stayed true to his excellent work. Overall, a good film.