C ritically acclaimed by many and criticized by a few, The Shawshank Redemption movie, adapted from Stephen King’s novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” has proven to be a fine piece of cinematographic art and one of the best adaptations from a book to the big screen. Frank Darabont was the one in charge of directing The Shawshank Redemption and despite the fact that it was his debut as a movie director, he did an impeccable work.
The movie was released in 1994 and it only earned $16 million during its initial theatrical run, however, the film also received many positive reviews thanks to the brilliant parts performed by Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman supported by William Sadler, James Whimore, Bob Gunton and Clancy Brown. It is one of those cases where you get the feeling that each character was drawn for each of its performers as it is the case in excellent films.
The story starts in a courtroom where Tim Robbins’ character Andy Dufresne is being judged for the murder of his wife and a professional golf player: her lover. Between flashbacks of the heavy drinking he did the night of the murder and the district attorney’s relentless questions and evidence, and despite his claims of innocence, Dufresne is sent to serve two life sentences at Shawshank prison.
Inside, Dufresne displays a deep calm and a sense of purpose, even after suffering cruelty, sadness and frustration, besides the perks of life in prison. His behavior is what attracted the attention from the other inmates, especially Ellis “Red” Redding, naturally performed by Morgan Freeman. Inmates Heywood (William Sadler) and Brooks (James Whitmore) perform along Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman as the “good guys” in the inside, whereas Bob Gunton and Clancy Brown perform as Warden Norton and Captain Hadley respectively. These last two actors did a great job as the villains on the inside and it goes without saying that the movie would not have been such a success without them.
As time goes by, Dufresne becomes a beacon of hope for the other inmates, especially for Red, who has adapted maybe too well to the life behind bars and has become hopeful. Inspired by Dufresne, Red comes to realize that one light can turn many more lights on with just one single act: doing more for others than we do for ourselves. Dufresne knows this and thanks to his acts, some humanity is restored for many inmates. The Le Nozze di Figaro scene is the only one where you can see Dufresne really enjoying himself in a remarkable fashion. Being able to see life behind bars directly through the eyes of prisoners is one of the best qualities in Frank Darabont’s film, next to the natural performance delivered by Morgan Freeman and inspiring acts done by Tim Robbins’, Andy Dufresne.
Arriving at the climax of this remarkable movie, one gets to enjoy a much unexpected twist and an ending just as epic as the whole movie itself. Did I enjoy the two hours and twenty minutes watching basically guys with uniforms in a prison interacting with each other and managing to get busy living rather than getting busy dying? Absolutely yes and I would do it over and over again because The Shawshank Redemption is one of those movies worth having at hand when we feel at loss. In short, If you like to watch films based on books you are going to enjoy this film. I felt immersed in the prison from the first day that Dufresne set foot there, I was there next to Red admiring him for his positive spirit and most important, I really felt that while there is life, there is still hope.