The Shawshank Redemption
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A prominent banker unjustly convicted of murder spends many years in the Shawshank prison. He is befriended by a convict who knows the ropes and helps him to cope with the frightning realities of prison life.
When this popular prison drama was released in 1994, somecritics complained that the movie was too long (142 minutes) to sustain its story. Those complaints miss the point, because the passage of time is crucial to this story about patience, the squeaky wheels of justice, and the growth of a life-long friendship. Only when the film reaches its final, emotionally satisfying scene do you fully understand why writer-director Frank Darabont (adapting a novella by Stephen King) allows the story to unfold at its necessary pace, and the effect is dramatically rewarding. Tim Robbins plays a banker named Andy who's sent to Shawshank Prison on a murder charge, where he gets to know a life-term prisoner named Red (Morgan Freeman). Andy's calm, quiet exterior hides a great reserve of patience and fortitude, and Red comes to admire this mild-mannered man who first struck him as weak and unfit for prison life. So it is that The Shawshank Redemption builds considerable impact as a prison drama that defies the conventions of the genre (violence, brutality, riots) to illustrate its theme of faith, friendship, and survival. Nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actor, and Screenplay, it's a remarkable film that signaled the arrival of a promising new filmmaker--a film that many movie lovers count among their all-time favorites. --Jeff Shannon
- Stills Gallery: Photos from director Frank Darabont's collection
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Top customer reviews
But I won't be reviewing the movie or the script - it's been done thousands of times already by others, much better qualified. I only want to discuss this most impressive Blu-ray rendition. So, here it comes.
Physically, it comes in what I see it's called a 'book' binding. I have one other edition of 'The Matrix' put together in the same fashion. It is literally a book. Hard-cover style, the disk attached to the inner side of the back cover. If you open the book, carefully, you will find glossy, beautifully illustrated pages dedicated to the many great actors that played in Shawshank, to Stephen King, of course, the director, the writer. Being a book, it doesn't lock. It also doesn't open very well so, like I said, open it carefully.
I am not going to say that "this book binding alone should be reason enough to get yourself the Blu edition" because it would be silly but the pretty package shows that some TLC was invested when putting this together this release, unlike some other do-it-quick-and-cheap DVD-to-Blu translations - and they know who they are.
PICTURE AND SOUND
The quality is dramatically better when compared to the previous DVD edition. And, no, it does not compare with an upscaled DVD. I watched the first few minutes on the DVD and on the Blu on a PS3 that upscales DVDs and there is no comparison. There is some graininess in scenes shot in semi-dark surroundings but I would call the overall quality of the picture as somewhere between 'excellent' and 'spectacular'.
Almost the same to be said about the sound. The TrueHD makes a significant difference on a 7.1 surround system. I know it because the Dolby 5.1 track is also included and even my untrained ears can tell the difference.
Sadly, there's nothing new here. Three LENGTHY features (40-plus minutes each), including a full Charley Rose episode discussing the movie with all the two main actors and the director. The other two extras feature Stephen King, the script writer, the director, the actors, the town where the movie was shot, the 'Shawshank Prison' building (a former real prison in real life), even former 'true' prisoners, talking about how it really was. All three features are worth watching but, sadly, they are in the old 'narrow screen', low-res TV format with 2-channel stereo sound.
An alternative sound track with director's commentary is also available.
RATING THIS EDITION
With all the little shortcomings noted, it HAS to be a 5-star because I'm comparing it with any of the prior editions. There are very few movies I have on DVD that I would buy again on Blu but, this would be the one I'd get even if I could only afford buying one.
If you have a Blu player and you love The Shawshank Redemption you owe yourself getting this.
Caveats: The R-rating still applies, and the violence in the movie is palpable.
The culmination of this unusual rapport between Andy Dufresne and Red Redding ends with keeping a promise made to an old friend while never dreaming that it will come to be when it was made. The writing in a "half way" room scratched above a table just right for completing a suicide tells yet another story of the difference inspiration can make; one life ends in death because there is no hope, one life goes forward because of the bond between two - provided by only one. And the remembered phrase coming back to give him strength - "Get busy living, or get busy dying."
The visuals and audio during this finale are what make it so fine; more poignant than any dialogue. Determined to keep his promise to his friend made while in prison, (almost as a deathbed promise) Red goes to the fragrant hay fields of Buxton seeking the rock wall and what is buried beneath by Andy. As he descends from an old red farm truck that has given him a ride to the area, it as though he has entered another world, one tranquil and peaceful; gravel crunching under his feet as he walks in the hot summer sun; corn and hay fields, bird voices, dense green foliage; untroubled life and sound is everywhere; and at long last the old rock wall that holds his salvation buried there.