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Customer Review

20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deluxe treatment for a terrific movie, October 5, 2004
This review is from: The Shawshank Redemption (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
"The Shawshank Redemption" based on Stephen King's short novel "Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption" finally gets the deluxe treatment. This 10th Anniversary edition has a beautiful, rich, vivid and sharp transfer. While there's some minor digital blemishes, it looks remarkably crisp with a faithful reproduction of the original theatrical appearence of the movie. Although some of the darker sequences are a bit murky, the DVD compression doesn't effect the look of the movie substanially.

Tim Robbins plays a banker convicted of murdering his wife and her lover on circumstanial evidence and send to Shawshank prison for two life terms. He befriends Red (Morgan Freeman)while on the inside and begins quietly trying to rebuild as close to a normal life as possible behind bars becoming a good friend to Red's circle of friends as well. Most folks are probably familiar with this well written and directed movie so I'll skip any additional summation of the plot. Besides, to reveal more would spoil the pleasure of viewing this treasure.

The first disc consists of the movie with a great commentary track from writer/director Frank Darabont. Darabont discusses the difficulties in adapting King's short novel and the challenges to translating literature to the screen. He also discusses some of the changes he made to King's novel to make it work better as a dramatic presentation and the challenges of casting, performance and location shooting. It's an enlightening commentary track that educates as much as it entertains.

The second disc includes "The Charlie Rose Show" segment devoted to "The Shawshank Redemption" and features Darabont, Robbins and Freeman in a great discussion on the making of the film. It's clear that all involved enjoyed working together and that atmosphere carries over to the film that they created together. We also get 2 marvelous documentaries; the first "Hope Springs Eternal: A Look Back at The Shawshank Redemption" is a marvelous featurette that covers everything from what inspired Darabont to adapt King's short novel in the first place to the rigors of producing a film at an abandoned closed prison. "Shawshank: The Redeeming Feature" examines the powerful impact of the movie and features a number of prominent critics and individuals that both discovered this powerful movie when it played in cinemas and on home video. It's not as involving as the first featurette but does give a wealth of detail about the reach and scope of a work of art when it touches an audience in a unique, personal way.

We also get the comic spoof of the film "The Sharktank Redemption" which is actually quite funny. I hadn't seen this before although you'll appreciate it best after having watched the movie. Storyboards, a still gallery and the original theatrical trailer are also included. All are of top quality.

The Special Edition Boxed Set includes the BFI book published on the film. It's quite a good book and would be a great reference for film buffs. It's also got a wealth of insight some of which will be worthwhile to film students and hardcore fans of the film. On the other hand, the more casual fan will probably be quite satisfied with the two DVD set. The Special Edition Boxed Set also comes with the film's original soundtrack. The marvelous score by Thomas Newman doesn't have an isolated channel (my one complaint about this DVD)on the DVD so fans of the film who also like the beautifully written but restrained music by Newman will probably want this as well. Other than these two items (and a nice box) there's no difference between the two movies.

Is this a great movie? It's a well made epic film that chronicles the redemption of two very different men that end up by circumstance becoming friends. Sure, it deals in some cliches but then so do all movies. It's used as short hand. What matters is that Darabont, like King, turns some of these cliches inside out for many of these characters. This isn't a film for those expecting the latest "Jason" movie but one that demands patience as it builds the characters over time. In many respects, "The Shawshank Redemption" reminds me of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life"; it's about missed opportunities and a second chance to try and live life to the fullest again.
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