I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and while I let myself indulge for a bit, I really needed to get my ass in gear primarily due to deadlines. Music helps to an extent, but so do movies. Some people have a movie they watch when they’re sick, after a break up, when they’re in a funk, etc. Shawshank Redemption is one of those movies for me. It’s oddly a pretty god pick me up and motivator.
For anyone unaware, Shawshank Redemption does take place at a prison (the prison is actually named Shawshank). The movie occurs over quite a long period of time. It starts in the late forties and ends in the late sixties. Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is accused of killing his wife and her lover and sentenced to jail for two life terms; one for each victim. Andy claims he’s innocent and while there is a set up, before trial, we never actually see him kill anyone. The rest of the movie pretty much takes place in Shawshank. Andy is the protagonist, but there’s plenty of time devoted to other characters. The film doesn’t linger on Andy as he goes through his term. In fact early on Red (Morgan Freeman), a man who “knows how to get things” serves as an occasional narrator to help see what exactly is going on.
Crap summary I suppose, but there really is too much to describe, especially with trying to avoid spoilery tidbits.
The movie is long. It’s 142 minutes. That’s two and a half hours-ish and the movies slow to boot. There really is no action in this film. There are some brief tense moments, but nothing that really gets the heart pounding too much. It’s just a very casual look at life in this prison (there’s more too it than that). Despite what seems like a too long, bleak, and cumbersome movie, it’s not. Well for some I’m sure it is. Personally the movie seems short. I wasted 142 minutes watching this and didn’t notice. Why?
The content. The movie is rather deep. Apart from the long moments where we are left to ponder some philosophical tidbits, the movie really allows you too sink your teeth into whats going on. Andy is the protagonist, yet we don’t know shit about him. The audience relies on Red explaining some details and even he doesn’t have all of the answers. Apart from just trying to figure out Andy the slow pace of the movie allows you to connect to the other characters. You get too know everyone there. You become very familiar with that family in Shawshank. Darabont never really pushes you in any direction.
It also helps to have a pretty good cast. Morgan Freeman is the man. By now he’s very well known for his voice work. Freeman has become the Narrator for life. Red is a great character and Freeman’s narration really helps this film. He’s also a fine actor as well. Tim Robbins is good to. I think his performance may get a bit overlooked at times, but he does a really good job with his character. Andy isn’t meant to be talkative. He keeps to himself and is aloof and I feel Robbins did a great job capturing that. The supporting cast is amazing as well. This is a movie that I watch and go, “yes they deserve a Best Ensemble Cast award.” It’s one fo the few times where I feel most of the cast was outstanding and that’s saying something considering how much screen time some smaller roles get.
Clearly I love this movie and I really haven’t sunk my teeth into exploring it out here. I’ve yet to discuss how visually gorgeous it is or how amazing the soundtrack is. I mean Thomas Newman did a phenomenal job here. Is it the greatest film ever? No, but I don’t think there is such a thing. Nor is it my favorite movie. That doesn’t exist for me. There are movies that are better in different aspects. It is however one of my favorite movies and it is a great film, because it is very solid and well-rounded film.
Shawshank Redemption isn’t some glum prison movie. Part of the reason so many people love this film is because of how uplifting it actually is. The movie packs quite a bit in it and you just need to sit back and let it all soak in. Some people don’t like the film and that’s fine. Someone has to. However it is definitely one of those movies everyone needs to give an honest shot.
I have the urge to really go on and on in detail about the film, so I’ll be doing that in a separate post sometime soon (or multiple posts).
You can see more of my articles at Film Daze