|Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne
Morgan Freeman as Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding
Bob Gunton as Warden Samuel Norton
|Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption – A 100 page novella by Stephen King
|2 hours 22 mins
The Plot, the Setting
The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American prison drama film starring Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, and Bob Gunton. It is about a financial wizard a serving a life sentence for a double murder. The protagonist Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), lives his days and years in prison, through good, bad, and nasty times, while he maintains the hope that one day he will be free.
ANDY DUFRESNE: I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.
The story starts in in 1947 in Portland, Maine. Banker Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. He is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at Shawshank State Penitentiary.
In the prison, Andy befriends contraband smuggler, Ellis “Red” Redding (played by Morgan Freeman), who is also serving a life sentence. He is also regularly assaulted by a nasty prison gang called the “the Sisters”.
After a couple of years, Andy uses his skills to help the prison officers and guards with their taxes and investments. This ensures that Andy is no longer troubled by other nasty prisoners. With time, Andy is made responsible for the prison library. He becomes an unofficial financial consultant, while he works diligently to upgrade the library by requisitioning for books and funds.
The prison warden Norton starts a corrupt practice of exploiting prison labor for public works, receiving bribes and laundering the money with Andy’s skills. An opportunity that arises for Andy to prove himself innocent is extinguished by the warden, who is afraid that a freed Andy may expose him.
Through all of this, Andy keeps alive his hope of achieving freedom one day.
ANDY DUFRESNE [in letter to Red]: Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
Uplifting, Sensitive, and Deeply Satisfying
The Shawshank Redemption received positive critical reviews and popular response. It did well at the box-office and was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1994 (it did not win in any category).
What is odd about the success of the this movie is that over the years it has improved in its ranking among ‘the greatest’ lists. Till 2000, it hardly appeared in any such lists. However, by 2015, The Shawshank Redemption figures in most ‘best ever’ movie lists. It has been #1 on IMDb’s user-generated Top 250 since 2008.
The acting by Tim Robbins is understated, the prison staff and other prisoners are realistic. Morgan Freeman is, well, Morgan Freeman, like in all other movies and roles.
This inspirational movie seems better with each viewing.
The movie is close to 2.5 hours and can be watched in 2-3 stretches.
“A thumpingly good ode to friendship, hope, wit, wiles and wisdom, brimming with crackling characters and topped with the most twisteroo of twists …”
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