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The Shawshank Redemption

Shawshank Redemption

**I apologize if I end up be-bopping around a lot with this post as I am basically stating my ideas of why I love this film as I see them. And of course I'm not very good at reviews either.**

This was probably close to my 100th time watching it (literally), but every time it is an emotional experience. It's hard for me to find any fault in the movie personally. The score is superb, Roger Deakins photography shines, and the acting is great from all pieces of the puzzle, with a brilliant story and brilliant directing. And it holds a lot of personal value: it was a film that my Dad and I had watched countless times before together and we could always use it as a bonding experience.

A good chunk of the movie is narrated through Ellis Redding, a Shawshank veteran played by Morgan Freeman who eventually becomes very close with Andy Dufresne. I'm a huge fan of Freeman's narration as it adds a lot to the film for me. The movie to me show the realism of just how brutal being behind walls is, especially telling in the brutal beating of the "fat man" who is the first to break down.

I like how some scenes are so memorable. Like for instance when Brooks asks for the maggot I always believed he was going to eat it when it was actually the bird he was taking care of, Jake. I also was really choked up by the other Brooks scene, "Brooks was here". It is rather speculation how well a scene with a minor character can choke one up a bit. And while generally a lot of credit is given to Robbins and Freeman, the supporting cast was splendid as well. Brooks (as previously stated), Warden, Hadley, Boggs are four great ones, but they really all are.

So what other scenes struck me as fantastic? Well certainly the
Escape scene and the reuniting of Andy and Red are two of my favorite scenes of all time. I know the escape scene is one that many saw coming from a mile away, but for me, it was perfect. Is something like that possible? Well it isn't likely but who is to say. It's plausibility doesn't hurt it for me. It is the final destination of Andy's journey of hope being achieved.

If we are looking for an underrated scene, I tend to go with the scene where Tommy talks about how he met Andy's wife's killer. It is a bit haunting and captivating at the same time. Andy's character seems to be shaken after going to Norton and it adds quite a bit of goosebumps to the story, seeing Norton turn into a bigger monster than he already is. Norton sees that Andy has a light at the end of the tunnel and is the type of person who doesn't want him to see anything but darkness, in which the ensuing hole represents. The whole "obtuse" scene is a very chilling one that brings Andy to the realization of where he is at in his life and the unfortunate circumstances that have bestowed him.

Friendship and Hope are two of the greatest human qualities of life, and they are both presented as the key topics to this film. We see the progress of both friendship and hope happen in the two places that you would be least likely to see it, which for me adds a unique touch to the film. Laughter is another and though it isn't a key piece to the film, under the surface there really is plenty of it in this film, which I think is intentionally intended to be that way now that I think of it. Through the friendship of Red, Andy is instilling his hope in his future particularly through smuggling into the prison a rock hammer and the Rita Hayworth poster. But hope always runs its tests, and Andy had plenty of them. Boggs and the Warden often acting as devil figures standing in his way of the ocean. Andy at times gets near the bottom of the pit, but he never truly gives up on his hope. I like to think that Andy's love for chess and Rita Hayworth is a symbol of how one can fall back on things they like to take some of the pressure off. We also see how one can lose hope, through the view of Brooks. It would ha been very easy for Andy to go down the same route as Brooks, and that scene of Brooks is very powerful in showing exactly how hope can be lost.

Some of my favorite camera shots are when we first see the prison and when we see Hadley nearly push Andy over the building as they are working on the rooftop. Of course my favorite is the iconic prison break scene, with Andy running in the rain. It's a highly underrated film from a cinematography point as well. It's visuals are quite beautiful and often have great chemistry with the score to make scenes more impactful and memorable to me.

The dialogue is iconic. When Norton gives Andy a bible and says "Salvation lies within
" it is the perfect Segway to what acting ends up happening. These little tidbits that foreshadow throughout the movie truly makes it powerful and more impactful on each and every rewatch. There's other highly quotable scenes such as "These walls are funny. First you hate Em. Then you get used to Em.", "Get busy livin, or get busy dyin'.", "Hope is a dangerous thing". I could go on and on and on but they are all very impactful scene for me.

I like how Darabont keeps his main characters at the forefront of the film with Red and Andy. It is like we are going on a journey through their years of both struggle and growing together. Sometimes their struggles essentially keep them closer, as it makes them be able to relate to each other and their fellow inmates. But these two seem to be the brightest of the bunch. Red with his ability to smuggle through the walls, and Andy with his tax knowledge, book keeping abilities, and his ability to teach Tommy, and it is what keeps them together.

In getting back to iconic scenes, that prison break scene is my favorite scene of all time. It puts the entire journey of Andy's life into perspective, all in his escape. It is a very powerful and moving scene that I will never forget. It's score is stunning, it's cinematography breathtaking, and it's acting surreal.

I would also like to say that the last thirty minutes of this film are my favorite 30 minutes in all of cinema. The prison break, the arrest of Hadley and Norton (well, kind of), and the poetic reconnection of Andy and Red, the latter one of the more heartwarming scenes as well.

I know that it's impractical for a film not to have any faults but the truth in the matter is that this is a perfect film for me. Whatever faults the film has I use my blinders and do not see them. It has always been a top 3 film for me, has been in the top spot for awhile, and will probably stay up there until 2080.


To me, a culmination of what the HOF is all about. Sharing your personal favorites with others, and hoping that they like them well enough.