Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

I tend to review most of the movies that I watch.  It may not be a great movie or a great review, but it’s rare that I pass up an opportunity.  When I do pass on a movie, it’s usually because the movie is a little intimidating.  Star Wars is a cultural icon, as is the Godfather.  I’m not sure I would even know how to review these movies with any amount of justice.  (Then again, I have no problem reviewing Star Trek episodes.)

The Shawshank Redemption is one of those movies.  Each time I watch it, I get something new out of it.  There’s something that I see that I didn’t see before.  The next time I watch it, I’ll probably notice something new.

The story is about Andy Dufresne.  He’s sent to jail for the murder of his wife, which he denies.  (The judge mistakes this for a lack of remorse.)  Inside, he meets Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding.  Andy is probably the only innocent person in Shawshank, whereas Red is the only person willing to admit that he’s guilty.  In fact, Andy is exposed to all manner of guilty people, including the warden and the head guard.

Once Andy proves his worth, he’s afforded some respect, both by the administration and his fellow prisoners.  However, that respect comes at a cost.  He’s too valuable to let go, even if he really is innocent.

This is where I’ve come to respect the film and see its many layers.  Prison does take something from you.  It’s meant to put you down and put you in your place.  Prison may not be able to break Andy, but he does have to sell a part of himself to get by.  As he puts it, he was innocent when he came it.  It took prison to make him a guilty man.  Red, on the other hand, claims to have given up hope, or at least be very close to hopeless.  He still denies it, though.  It’s not until he admits to himself what he’s done that he’s really free.

The movie doesn’t really focus on the guilt of each character.  Instead, it deals with what prison takes away from them.  We have a prison system that doesn’t really rehabilitate.  It doesn’t prepare people for life on the outside.  Instead, it produces people that can’t survive on their own.  The movie becomes more of a tale of what could happen.  The outcome is more tragic for some characters.  Yet, Andy and Red manage to make it.

There were a lot of things that I didn’t understand about the movie when I first saw it.  There are still a few things I’m not sure I understand.  It’s exactly the kind of movie you could watch and talk about with a friend and each come away with a different understanding.  It’s one of the few movies I would recommend watching several times. 


 IMDb page


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