If I were ever in prison, The Shawshank Redemption will be one of the movies I’ll be glad I saw so many damn times I could replay it in my head while Big Bubba murders his cellmate next door. Being that it’s the ultimate movie about the celebration of life and inner freedom would also be a bonus. However I wouldn’t be able to shake the whole rape aspect for quite a while.
What has made the movie a classic, and one worth watching again and again, is the universal story. It’s all about two men living seemingly comfortable but routine lives in prison, who after coming together learn to look at themselves and see the possibilities of a full life beyond bars.
But even though that may seem hokey to the uninitiated, director and writer Frank Darabont tells this story with just as much violence, foul language and engaging characters as needed to tell the end-all-be-all of prison movies. And again, there’s a bit about some rape, but we don’t need to go into that.
Tim Robbins is excellent as Andy Dufrane, a man locked up, not for killing his wife, mind you, but for driving her away with his lack of passion or free-spiritedness, who must go through trial after trial to find the true meaning of living.
Morgan Freeman plays the role of Red, a role he will forever be most identified, as he is the only man who could’ve played it. Wise, funny, sensitive, calming and who always knows what to say and when to say it.
This is a movie that could’ve been depressing and overbearing, but thanks to sympathetic and insightful direction from Darabont, who keeps the pace lively, the story of Dufrane and his quest for inner redemption is as entertaining as any studio blockbuster. Unless it’s when he’s getting raped. Then maybe put the kids to bed.