1 Year, 100 Movies: #72 The Shawshank Redemption (1994)


For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

It has been years since I’ve watched The Shawshank Redemption, and it was a wonderful film to revisit. It’s fantastic for one reason. Okay, several reasons, but there is one main reason. This film does not seek to change the way film is made, nor does it aspire to change storytelling. It simply uses the timeless process of storytelling perfectly. Around every turn we are informed and most importantly we are captivated. It is storytelling at its most excellent. It is narrated by a supporting character, Morgan Freeman’s ‘Red’. He is a time-worn prisoner who witnesses the arrival of the new prisoner, Andy Dufrense (Tim Robbins) who may or may not have murdered his wife (we are led to believe he is innocent, but never find out for sure.) The second hand narration is brilliant because it keeps a veil of mystery surrounding Andy’s character. We are never sure at the moment why he may do something- we can only see how it knits together after the fact.

Soon into the story Andy asks Red to get him a rock hammer. Andy laughs and tells Red he’ll understand why it’s funny Red thinks that Andy will be able to escape with it. It is tiny, but we as smart viewers should know better. The movie builds up, planting important seeds here and there- like how events lead up to Andy doing all the employees’ taxes and is then he given the task of bookkeeping at the prison. Or, why Andy keeps updating his life-size posters of celebrity movie sirens of the day.  At the end of the movie we see how the warden ends up getting his, how Andy escapes- and how Red joins him. It’s a fantastic movie that keeps a hard edge to sell the hope and joy that would have otherwise been too sickly sweet. If there ever was a movie where you’ll cheer for the underdog, this is it.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:



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