The Shawshank Redemption Movie Review

The last place one would expect to find hope would be a prison. Likewise, the last movie in which one would expect to find hope is a prison movie. However, in The Shawshank Redemption, hope is exactly what we get.

The Shawshank Redemption is the story of Andy Dufrense (Tim Robbins); a man accused of murdering his wife and her lover and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. He is shipped to Shawshank Maximum Security Prison, in Shawshank, Maine, to spend the duration of his life. Over the next years (two hours, movie time), he finds his way to inner peace and holds onto great hope in the midst of the terror of the prison system.

The Shawshank Redemption is one of those films that is a true work of both art and magic. It is a work of art in the fact that it can so perfectly paint the picture of a man who will not relinquish the only thing someone cannot directly take away: hope. It is a work of magic in the fact that you are completely enveloped in Shawshank. From the first shot of Shawshank prison -- an utterly gothic structure that permeates you with a sense of just how frightening the prison will be -- you are enveloped inside of the world of Shawshank. You experience a prison life composed of routine after routine after routine.

The performances in Shawshank are top notch. The commentary upon the justice system is both thoughtful and thought provoking. Yet, despite all of its greatness, Shawshank's script leaves a little to be desired. I suppose such happens when one is using Stephen King as the source for a serious movie. Shawshank's characters are cliched. There is Red (Freeman), the convict who gets things, who says at one point "I suppose there's a convict like me in every prison." Also, Andy plays the stereotype of the innocent man, doing time for a crime he did not commit. The story is basically predictable. The dialogue has a propensity to get preachy.

Despite these flaws, The Shawshank Redemption is a film with remarkable staying power. It is able to sustain itself throughout its duration and to keep you enraptured with its remarkably hopeful story. In the end of it all, Andy Dufrense will escape Shawshank. You will escape Shawshank. But you will not escape The Shawshank Redemption.

The new special edition DVD includes commentary from director Frank Darabont, two making-of documentaries, and a spoof of the film called The Sharktank Redemption, among other goodies.


The Shawshank Redemption Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 1994


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