My latest blogging whim is to have a crack at reviewing the IMDB top250 list. I am not the quickest, and let’s face it, most committed blogger in the world so this will be a long project.
It was almost off putting that The Shawshank Redemption is number1 on the list as I have never been a fan. I’ve always had this sneaky suspicion that it is popular for people to claim The Shawshank Redemption is a favourite film as it is a trendy title to name drop.
I haven’t watched the film for years; I must have been a young teen when I watched it. I will admit that I was curious to see how my first viewing of The Shawshank Redemption as an adult would fare.
PLOT: After banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is wrongfully found guilty of the murder of his wife and her lover he is sent to Shawshank Prison where he begins serving his two life sentences. Andy soon makes friends with Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman) and a twenty year friendship begins. END PLOT
My plot synopsis of The Shawshank Redemption is short and is so basic it looks as though I haven’t really tried. This isn’t the case. The story of The Shawshank Redemption deserves more than a few paragraphs – it deserves to be watched rather than read. Stephen King will be thrilled.
The friendship of Andy and Red spans twenty years during which time fellow prisoners and friends come and go, change seldom happens and there are occasional, and at times, brutal altercations with the guards.
The key themes in the film are hope and friendship and the notion that both are necessary to survive. Despite the grim setting The Shawshank Redemption is a surprisingly uplifting film. It is a testament to the script and performances of the cast that the tone never becomes cheesy or saccharine. The themes flow naturally and I did start to well up on more occasions than I care to admit.
Tim Robbins is incredibly understated and gives a very stoic performance as Andy Dufresne. Andy may have been the main character but it is Red who is the true heart of the story. Morgan Freeman is excellent as always and the narration provided by Red is an important part of the film.
I think I would cry if Morgan Freeman narrated an extract from the Yellow Pages. The Shawshank Redemption would have been a completely different film without Red’s simple and matter of fact narration. It certainly would not have packed such an emotional punch.
There were a few occasions when I felt myself tear up. The most emotionally devastating section of the film is the little subplot involving Brooks and his struggle to adapt to the modern outside world. This part of the film really got to me.
The Shawshank Redemption is one of those rare, quiet films that rely on the script and cast to make it great. There is no action. There are no special effects, bells or whistles. There is no weak link in the entire film and there are no unnecessary scenes. The Shawshank Redemption has aged very well and I don’t see how its quality can be weakened through the passage of time.
I was probably too young to “get” The Shawshank Redemption first time around but watching it now I can fully appreciate its brilliance. In terms of storytelling and performances it cannot be faulted so I suppose I must give it 10/10.
I don’t mean to begrudge giving The Shawshank Redemption a perfect score. This rating is kept for films that I not only love but will watch to the death. The Shawshank Redemption will not be watched again for quite some time. Perhaps it doesn't need to be.