Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, James Whitmore, Gil Bellows
Directed by: Frank Darabont
Written By: Frank Darabont
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 2 hr 22 min
Most prison dramas come across as pretty clichéd these days. The innocent convict and hero of the story is sent to a really brutal prison. There’s usually a hard-ass prison guard to deal with, and a warden working to undermine our hero’s efforts. There will be time spent in solitary confinement, and a prisoner, someone close to the our hero will likely be killed. We’ve seen it so many times before. But for good reason. The Graybar hotel is a great place to set a drama. Each convict’s sordid history is potential fodder for a compelling story. So when we see characters in that setting grow and change for the better, we care about it, and when a character like Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sent to Shawshank prison and starts to shake things up, it’s easy to connect to that character and root for him.
It certainly doesn’t hurt when Tim Robbin’s is playing the part either. Nor is it a problem when his best friend(Red) is played by Morgan Freeman. In fact, this story is narrated by Red, and usually the constant need to explain story points and character feelings with a voice over really bothers me. But this is Morgan Freeman, and that voice gets a pass!
The Shawshank Redemption in my opinion is a near perfect film. There isn’t a single aspect of this film I didn’t like. It’s superbly acted, written and directed. Thomas Newman’s score is quite frankly amazing, and the inspiration behind my most listened to Pandora radio station! The pace of the film is pitch perfect too, and the story is heart warming. If I did have a complaint it might be that it’s too short. I enjoyed the time spent with these characters so much, that I didn’t want the film to end.
This film moves at a slow but steady pace. If you liked films like Birdman of Alcatraz, you should like this one too. This is a must see for fans of Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. It’s not especially violent, but there is a fair amount of bad language. This is set in a prison after all!
It’s extremely well made – but a HD viewing at home is good enough. This film is more about the characters and dialog, and would entertain equally on any device you care to watch it on.
Best moments for me:
I love the moment when Andy Dufresne is bused into Shawshank Prison. It’s a gorgeous aerial shot starting outside the prison walls, and follows the bus as it heads inside. The shot then pans up and over the main entrance to Shawshank to reveal the entire prison. We see other prisoners head toward the area they unload the new convicts, and all of this is done to Thomas Newman’s fantastic score. Take a look and listen.
I also really liked Red’s third parole meeting. Here’s the dialog.
There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone, and this old man is all that’s left. I got to live with that. Rehabilitated? It’s just a bullshit word. So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit.