The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – Frank Darabont

If there is a near perfect drama film for me, it is the next recommendation in DK Canada’s The Movie Book, The Shawshank Redemption directed by Frank Darabont, who wrote the screenplay as well, basing it on the short story by Stephen King.

Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman headline at the iconic King-universe prison, Shawshank, as they both serve out their terms. Andy Dufresne (Robbins) and Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding (Freeman) bond over the decades, and find a measure of redemption and peace through acts of decency and humanity, the resiliency of hope, leading eventually to an escape.

Packed with a fantastic cast, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Gil Bellows, Clancy Brown, and James Whitmore, the film is nothing short of an awe-inspiring watch.

Over the film’s two hour plus runtime, we are allowed to get to know a number of the characters, and each one gets their own arc, which will be completed before film’s end. Each moment is well-crafted, each scene beautifully shot, lit, and performed.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen this film, but each time I watch it, I actually watch it. I settle in for the whole running time, and won’t be distracted from it. It’s fantastic filmmaking.

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We are given themes of hope, friendship, and more as we join Andy and Red in serving their time, some of it together, some of it horrifyingly in solitary, but Andy has hope, and it’s something he teaches to Red, who has been in prison far longer.

Darabon’t script, something he was able to create within eight weeks, is perfect, there is nothing amiss, and it works wonderfully. We are shown terror, joy, and again, hope through the telling of the tale, and that last voice-over by Red as the film draws to a close makes me weep every single time.

I remember the first time I saw this, I went into it completely unawares, and sat there changed by the end of the film. And that is a sign not only of a great movie, but of cinema, of art.

It’s surprising to think now that when the film was first released it was a bit of a box-office failure, but now it is one that most everyone knows and one is always willing to recommend it to those who haven’t seen it.

The Shawshank Redemption remains a moving film, with fantastic performances, a brilliant story, – stories as we follow a number of characters (and Brooks played by Whitmore is heartbreaking – and damned near perfect film production.

To my way of thinking it doesn’t get much better than this.

If you haven’t seen this one, it’s high time to fix that, and if you have, it’s probably time for a revisit. Or you could pick up a copy of DK Books’ The Movie Book and find something else amazing to watch.

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