Day 361: The Shawshank Redemption

#379/ 365 – ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ (1994) – 142 mins
IMDb Challenge #250 / 250 – Ranked #1 – DVD Collection

Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is a young and successful banker whose life changes drastically when he is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife and her lover. Set in the 1940’s, the film shows how Andy, with the help of his friend Red (Morgan Freeman), turns out to be a most unconventional prisoner.

Released in 1994 to warm critical acclaim, the Academy nominated it for Best picture, Best actor (Morgan Freeman), Best adapted screenplay and four technical awards. First-time director Frank Darabont’s screenplay adaptation of Stephen King’s short novel “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”, failed to turn a profit at the box office, and only found it’s audience when it was released on home video, since then it has gradually grown to become a cult phenomenon.

Narrated by Red (Morgan Freeman), the prison entrepreneur who keeps being rejected for parole, the message and theme of the film is one of hope and despite the simplicity of this it manages to hold you transfixed virtually from start to finish. Shawshank signifies freedom in its storytelling that allows the film to propel at the viewer frequent sincere surprises which make for many a feel good moment, in particular the unforgettable ending.

Whilst it’s virtually impossible to overstate the effectiveness of the two lead performances from Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, Darabont does a superb job of transforming the host of minor supporting characters into vividly drawn and compelling characters.

The Shawshank Redemption now regularly features near the top of every ‘favourite film’ or ‘greatest film ever made’ lists – hence it has long been at the top of the IMDb Top 250 films, but does it really deserve its place so highly upon the list? My enthusiasm is a little more restrained in awarding it this top spot. However, it is a film that is moving, warm, rewarding, welcoming and full of heart which is guaranteed to stick in your memory long after the credits roll. The Shawshank Redemption is a gem of a film that everyone should see.

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