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Customer Review

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Triumphant celebration of the human spirit, March 23, 2002
This review is from: The Shawshank Redemption (DVD)
First off, this reviewer regularly rates this movie as his personal favourite of all time. Why only four stars then? Because we are asked to rate the DVD, not the movie, and the criminal lack of DVD extras for one of the best films ever made is shameful. So, film five stars, DVD three - averaging out at 4. Maths lesson over, on with the review.

Based on the Stephen King novella ' Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption ' this really has become a modern day classic. Other films have grossed more, and may have a more immediate following, but Shawshank will endure for years, and become another 'Casablanca ' loved by generations to come.

The film tells the story of Andy Dufresne, sent to the maximum security prison of Shawshank for the murder of his wife and her lover. Played with an under-stated intelligence by Tim Robbins in a career defining turn, and supported by sterling performances from Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, and veteran James Whitmore. Morgan Freeman's work is particularly notable, not just for his performance ( let's face it, the man doesn't know how to give a bad one! ) but also for the fact that his is the voice of the film. His chocolate-rich tones were director Frank Darabont's choice for the voice-over of the film, as if his character Red is talking to us, and explaining the sub-text of the film. Voice overs often dont work ( Blade Runner being a prime example ) but this one does, perfectly.

Beginning at a slow pace, the film begins with the brutal de-humanising regime meted out to the 'Fresh Fish' as they begin their incarcaration in Shawshank. I remember suggesting my wife watch the film after I'd seen it, and she, being of a considerably more sensitive nature than me, found the early scenes difficult. If you too find the opening 45 minutes a tad heavy going, stick with it - the reward is worth it.

Eventually as we progress through the film, we see how Red's initial suspicion of Andy becomes a deep respect, and eventually a deep friendship, indeed it would be true to say that these two men love each other like brothers by the end. There are a few key scenes that really stick in the memory - the rooftop scene, the opera aria scene, the exam result scene - all of which enable us to begin to like these men, men we probably wouldn't have wanted in our homes before the film, but who we'd happily sit down to dinner with after.

The film's true emotional impact of course comes in the final third as we learn the truth about Andy's guilt or otherwise. True to many of King's works, there is a twist in the end which leaves us all stunned, and with a big stupid grin on our faces. The total and utter defeat of the dark forces in the film is accomplished with such applomb that you find yourself rooting for the bad guys - the prisoners, a bunch of murderers and misfits that two hours earlier you were deeply suspicious of. Indeed the last section of the film plays almost totally without our hero, and remains almost my favourite portion of it. By this time we are crying out for the final fulfilment of our hopes for the characters. It is to Frank Darabont's eternal credit that he accomplishes this in a scene without dialogue, and a sweeping panoramic withdrawl from the characters, leaving us with not a dry eye in the house, and a feel-good glow that lasts for days.

... while in [a local store] I noticed this man and wife trying to decide which DVD they would buy to view that evening. I pointed to Shawshank. "Ever seen this one?"
"Trust me" I said, "It's the best movie you've never seen." He bought it, and I like to think I made that man and wife cry, laugh and smile that evening.

To conclude, Warner Bros and Castle Rock - SHAME ON YOU! This movie deserves better. The Region 2 version rocks, so get busy, re-package, and give us fans the extras this classic deserves!

P.S. The ten-year anniversary edition has righted many wrongs. The film has finally been done justice. I watched it again the other night, and again my eyes welled up at the end. Either I am a wus, or I'm right, or maybe both! Yeah, both!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 17, 2014 9:38:33 AM PDT

Strange review. Who, in watching this movie, could ever think that Andy was guilty?
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Location: Downpatrick, UK United Kingdom

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