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The Shawshank Redemption

MovieMeditation presents...
total movie count ........... current day count
243 .......................... 269


August 9th

—— 1994 ——

—— drama ——

A novel adaption that allegedly transformed into the greatest movie ever made
may move down a few blocks in my own book of personal preferences…

The ludicrous and almost laughable label of picture perfect perfection, might actually be the most absurd and unfortunate element about this film, since no movie should ever be dubbed the best of the bunch, especially not when the bunch in question is the entirety of cinema itself. I can see why people would point towards possible perfection though, because I agree that this movie is pretty much perfect in every way. But I don’t see how people come to the conclusion that this is the best movie ever made, since the two things are very different, at least if you have the ability to think of perfection as a feasible fault. ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ may not be the greatest movie ever made, but it might as well be one of the most perfect pictures ever put to the big screen. So how does that make any sense?

In the movie we are watching seemingly ordinary people behind bars use their optimism and determination for freedom, to gradually raise the bar for the boring barebones prison life they are trapped in, all the while their own personal point of view has a strong saying in this matter and the overall movie experience. What truly connects the viewer to the screen is the strong human core and down to earth attitude of the film, showing more signs of life as it is right now, rather than how it was or has become over time. These people are destined to change their current situation, whether that means making some drastic and daring choices along the way, though mostly they hold themselves fully responsible for it and therefore don’t intend harm to anyone who might not be brave enough to do the same thing. Andy Dufresne is an interesting character who equally weighs his own personal mission with the people around him, making him a hero like no other. Ellis Boyd Redding, or simply “Red”, seems written with Morgan Freeman in mind, since he completely captures the long and endless enduring’s in prison and how you simply learn to live with it. All these characters in the film are far from cardboard cut-outs, but most of them are still slightly clichéd or substantially thin. But what this movie succeeds in is not deep character studies per say, but more what lies deep within these characters – human emotions and honest depictions of these emotions. When we see a pitiful prisoner or a powerful prison guard, this movie dives deeper than just faces and facades. We see who these people are and they all wear their heart on their sleeve, though some are blacker than others.

And it is this human connection that pull us into the film, even when some characters feel clichéd and perhaps a bit too downplayed. In the end, thi is a comfortable company to be following throughout and there is not one thing you can really hate about them or their place in the film. We follow these people, who all have a hard time living at the worst place possible, yet they all try to make things turn out the best way possible for them and their inmates. Sometimes it feels a little forced, but it never comes across as flat-out false, nor does it seem stilted even when being strictly structured for dramatic perfection. This film is pretty much the definition of perfectionism. The story, the characters, the themes, the music, the visuals – almost everything is on point and supervised to suit the subject matter and story structure. Actually, this film is almost too perfect in a way. Sometimes it just feels too cleanly cut, too well rounded and too damn comforting for such an uncomfortable set-up. I wasn’t necessarily looking for more uncomfortable scenes, because it does have such scenes as well, but unfortunately the execution is rarely that raw and gritty. It all feels too finely manipulated and as soon as it doesn’t it is for the purpose of pulling our heartstrings or making us feel the pain of the character so this aspect can be used later on.

Everything has a planned purpose and everything feels measured and calculated, but it fails to give me something unique or exciting. I just wish it was more daring or different, instead of this crowd and critic pleaser film, which fails to go against the system like the people of which the film represents. I understand that it didn't gain all of its great reputation upon release, but what I mean is just that it aims to deliver this certain type of drama that is universally understandable and relatable. I may not find it to be a personal favorite but I understand why people love it so much. It is a masterpiece in its own right, delivering pretty much what it promises and gives us this emotionally strong and heartfelt story that makes for a comfortable cinematic experience. You could say that ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is a movie that so flawlessly takes the long walk, but ends up imprisoning itself into perfectionism. It is far from easy to point out something cinematically weak or emotionally dull, because you just can't throw anything at this film because of how smooth it follows every rule and regulation. But in the end its strength is also what makes it come out on the other side looking weak. This film doesn't think too much outside its four walls, but you just can’t hate on this film no matter how hard you try. Not that I want to hate it either, because it is a rock solid film that hits all its marks and is pretty much perfect in every way… and that’s also why my rating cannot be. Well, I hope that makes some kind of sense.