The Shawshank Redemption (1994)


Frank Darabont directs Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman and Clancy Brown in this decade spanning tale of a prison friendship based on twisty Stephen King novella. 

You watch Shawshank so many times you start to see the gaps to wriggle through; How could the warden’s suit ever fit comfortably on Tim Robbins gangly giant frame? How could old Brooks have missed seeing all those automobiles that bring the prisoners each week? Nitpicking, but nits that reveal that Shawshank is a fable, is a fantasy, with no concern with authenticity, only expert homage. Set in the world of prison movies, rather than a realistic portrayal of prison. Like a DePalma thriller, a Leone western or a Tarantino ‘any genre he cares for’ movie – it is a movie set in a movie world, another leap further removed from reality. Which in no way hurts its mythic status, only reveals why it touches everyone’s heartstrings quite so epidemically. Darabont’ ambitious, and fulfilled, aim to is to take the rote, familiar nature of the behind bars flick and invest it with a heaven blessed craft and care. Each sequence is a luxurious short story of incarcerated Americana in its own right, yet the consistent and charmingly understated work between Robbins and Morgan Freeman connects these episodes together poetically. Some are brutal, others inspiring, but The Shawshank Redemption marries narrative tricks with likeable chemistry to create one of the few universally adored movies. Sure it is only the “greatest film ever” choice for people who haven’t really explored the heights and back channels of cinema but that doesn’t undermine its undeniable power for connecting and seducing audiences. Quality abounds.


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