The Shawshank Redemption movie review

Story by Davis Elordi, Features Editor

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     The Shawshank Redemption is often praised as one of the best films of all time. Released in September of 1994, the timeless story of friendship, hope and faith can resonate with any modern viewer searching for inspiration.

     Tim Robbins plays Andy Dufresne, a banker wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and the man with whom she had an affair. He enters the threatening prison of Shawshank where he is condemned to spend the rest of his life. He befriends fellow prisoner “Red” played by Morgan Freeman. Red acts as the narrator and the eyes through which we see the corrupt world of the prison.

     Every part of this film is beautifully crafted. From the music by Thomas Newman to the story originally written by famed horror novelist, Stephen King, Shawshank manages to be exactly the story the viewer hopes for while not holding back any of the emotional weight. Andy also provides an inspiring protagonist despite his circumstances, never giving up hope despite the tragedies that befall him.

     The film also includes conversations that sadly remain relevant all these years later. Despite being set between the 1940s and 1960s, the prison conditions in real life likely retain some of the disgusting attributes shown in the film. At various parole hearings, Red claims to have been rehabilitated before admitting that he doesn’t know what that means to the outside world. The movie is important for viewers to learn that we too expect only negativity from prisoners or paroled prisoners, rather than supporting reforms for prisoners. Ideas of prison reform remain relevant, as this fall, citizens will vote on whether convicted felons should regain voting rights after leaving prison.

     Social aspects and real-life consequences may enhance a movie, but they don’t make the film great. The Shawshank Redemption is great because of its capacity to inspire hope and to inspire. Despite all of the horrendous things that may happen, Andy and Red believe that people are inherently good, something audience members also may want to believe in once more.

     This is an amazing movie to watch when going through a difficult time. It is a movie that inspires without feeling like a schmaltzy “inspirational film.” Director Frank Darabont managed to capture the perfect tone as the depressing actions taken by the film’s villains gradually lead to hope for the protagonists. “Get busy living or get busy dying” is the film’s mantra. In the same way, viewers are reminded that hope can be liberating and to act upon their opportunities despite risks.

     A movie detailing a man’s false conviction and prison sentence may not sound like an exciting or upbeat film, but Shawshank manages to provide a powerful story that will leave the viewer overwhelmed with joy. Twenty-four years later, The Shawshank Redemption has secured its place as a timeless film that everyone should watch.

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