I finally committed to it and watched The Shawshank Redemption. I went in thinking I knew everything important about this movie. Technically, I did know the entire third act of the film thanks to a variety of sources. However, this film has so much greatness that knowing how it would end in no way negatively impacted the journey. I loved it. I give The Shawshank Redemption the Must See rating.
Andy Dufresne (Tim Robins) received two life sentences and is sent to Shawshank Prison. He meets Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), who is currently serving a life sentence, and the two bond over a number of years. The two find a peace and redemption through common acts of goodness.
This movie is ultimately about hope. Andy tells Red, “…There are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside…that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch…Hope.” That is the powerful and resounding theme of this film and it’s what connects with so many people. Tim Robins as Andy has every reason to abandon hope. The likelihood of freedom is gone. The world he knew before is gone. There is event after event that should rip that hope away from him, but it doesn’t. Red, much like the audience, is inspired by Andy and their friendship is pure. It is definitely the element of the film that pulled me in the most.
The biggest spoiler for me going in was having watched the episode of Family Guy where they did their versions of Stephen King stories. The key moments of the third act are their focus and I knew exactly what would transpire. However, the acting, the cinematography, and the writing was so compelling it didn’t matter. I was surprised at how in the dark the film keeps the audience about the third act until you get there. I kept waiting for those moments to show up or at least start to reveal themselves. The patience to keep that element of the story a secret was impressive. Again, Red, playing the role of the audience, is also kept out of most of the details of the third act.
From this point on, I’m going to discuss details of the film that could spoil things. However, please note that I had the end of this film spoiled and I still loved it. Andy seems like the main character, but we are heavily limited to what Red knows for a lot of the film. It’s an odd choice to keep us out of all of Andy’s information until the reveal of his prison escape. It’s odd, but excellent.
From the opening act I wanted to know if Andy was guilty of the murders he has been prosecuted by. How we finally find out the truth is excellent, and then extremely tragic. Andy had done so much to secure the safety of his friends and himself in prison that now there was no way he would ever be let out. He was too valuable of an asset. That is why he finally uses the hole he’d been secretly digging to escape. As noted earlier in the film, it took coming to prison to make Andy a crook.
Last thoughts on Shawshank Redmeption
The fact that he leaves some money and information for Red only proves how strong their bond was. One was the only man in Shawshank to admit to his guilt and the other was the only man who was truly innocent. I could write for a long time about how great this film is, but I’ll stop here. It had the potential to be overhyped and ended up surpassing it instead.