Thursday, May 3, 2018

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - A Personal Review



My favorite movie – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)




The Shawshank Redemption is one of those movies you always remember after seeing. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman make an exceptional pair as two convicts that spend their time in a prison. The story of the main character, Andy Dufresne, brilliantly played by Tim Robbins, is an example of courage and tenacity and it lets the film viewer know that everything’s possible when one sets one’s mind to it.

But what’s so special about the story? Andy, the main character, is found guilty of a crime he did not commit. After spending his whole youth as a successful banker, Andy is convicted to a sentence of life in prison.

Naturally, he thinks that he will never be able to integrate into the convicts’ community. To his surprise, however, he doesn’t find a crowd filled with dangerous individuals. Instead, he gets to befriend several of his prison companions, and one of them stands out as Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding.

Red is the guy who can get you anything you want, cigarettes especially. He comes off as a makeshift entrepreneur, and some might believe that his intentions aren’t always pure as he always tries to make more money off of the rest of the inmates, but the truth is that Red is a good guy and is quite honorable. So how do these two eventually become friends?

Although Andy mostly keeps to himself and finds it hard to interact with the rest of the people in prison, he does have to talk to Red at some point to ask him to get him a tiny hammer. Andy claims that he will need the tool for his rock collection, but later on in the movie, the real reason will be revealed.

Red is an enigma to many of the inmates as he manages to keep his hopes up in spite of the fact that the parole board rejects his pardon attempts time and time again. In a way, this is a symbol of how racism might affect the opinion of law enforcers, and how African Americans are always thought of being more prone to becoming criminals than Caucasian Americans.

What makes it so difficult for Andy to integrate with the rest of the inmates is that, as one might expect from a prison, it’s mostly filled with uneducated people. The fact that he’s educated and skilled as a banker, as well as the fact that he comes from a rich background automatically sets him apart from the crowd. It doesn’t take long for Andy to understand that making friends is going to be nearly impossible in a place like this, where most anyone tries to take advantage of another individual. The friendship that grows steadily between Red and Andy is unexpected for both of them.

The prison environment is colorful, to say the least. It holds a wide variety of criminals, and as one might be able to guess, nobody claims they did the crime. Everyone seems to have been framed for their crimes. There are several episodes that might be considered violent, but what impresses the film viewer is their complete realism. It would be wrong to romanticize a place like jail.

Despite desperately wanting to prove his innocence, Andy never gets his case reopened, and that’s because the prison’s warden uses him to sort out his finances. The warden is one of the most vicious film characters ever to have been invented as he tries his best to create as many obstacles as possible for Andy so that he never loses him. As a skilled banker, Andy is a prized ‘possession’ of the warden.

When Andy starts to understand that he might never be able to see the outside world again, he develops a plan and creates an escape method that will never be suspected by his inmates or guardians.

Although it is based on a novel written by Stephen King, the movie has a somewhat happy ending. King is known for his grimy and horror stories, and this one gets in the same category as The Green Mile, another movie masterpiece that’s ironically also based on another of King’s novels.

In the end, Andy did lose part of his life because of an unfair sentence, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t start over anytime. And being so resourceful, that’s precisely what he does. In short, this movie tells us that we can always hope for the better, no matter how difficult our current situation might be.


Photo via IMDB

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