The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Favorite Films

Written & Directed by Frank Darabont

Based on Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Starring Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, & James Whitmore

Release Date: September 23, 1994

Running Time: 2hr 22min

Rating: R

In 1947 Portland, Maine, banker Andy Dufresne (Robbins) is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at the Shawshank State Penitentiary. During his time there, he befriends fellow inmate Ellis “Red” Redding, a prison contraband smuggler also serving a life sentence, along with a few other inmates, and does accounting work for the corrupt warden, Samuel Norton (Gunton). Despite major hardships in prison, including sexual assault and the harsh disciplinary actions of Norton and his sadistic guard captain, Hadley (Brown), Andy does his best to maintain a positive outlook and not let his spirit be broken.

Despite positive reviews from critic, the film was a financial disappointment, earning only $15 against a $25 million budget. Even so, it went on to receive multiple award nominations, including seven Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture, Best Actor for Freeman, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Darabont in his directorial debut), and a theatrical re-release that, combined with international takings, increased the film’s box office gross to $58.3 million. Once released on home video in 1995 it became one of the most rented films of the year, and continues to broadcast on television around the world. It continues to appear on favorite lists, and in 2015 it was selected the preservation in the National Film Registry of the United States Library of Congress.

This was a movie I was familiar with for long time, but for one reason or another didn’t get around to seeing (besides clips on tv or parodies), I was in my early 20s when I finally got around to seeing it. Honestly, I’m glad I did as I feel that I was at the right age to appreciate it more. The hype surrounding this movie is definitely justified! Few feature directorial debuts are as well crafted as this. The over 2 hour runtime doesn’t feel slow, every minute feels important and has something memorable in it.

While Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are the standout performers of the film (helps that they’re the leads), boasting incredible chemistry, the supporting cast is top notch as well. Both Gunton and Brown play their villainous roles in different ways, but are still equally menacing. The inmates that make up Andy and Red’s group of friends have a natural rapport with each other (with William Sadler’s Heywood having some of the funniest moments).

So yeah, it’s a great movie and you should see it.

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