I thought I’d start this blog by reviewing what is probably my favorite movie of all time.
The Shawshank Redemption is widely considered to be one of the best films in history. It tells the stories of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman) having to deal with the brutality of prison life and how sometimes, the most human people in the prison are the prisoners as opposed to the guards.
Convicted of killing his wife and the man she was sleeping with, Andy is sent to Shawshank Prison, one of the most terrible prisons in Maine. The warden, Sam Norton (Bob Gunton) is a stern man of God who is a crook at heart; he “allows” Andy, who is a former banker, to manipulate the prison accounts so that he can appropriate extra money. The guard captain Byron Hadley (Clancy Brown) beats prisoners with very little provocation, in fact, he had his men beat a man to death on his first night because he was crying. However, the prisoners aren’t saints either. Beatings, rape, and other kinds of abuse go on between prisoners, and the guards tend to let it happen. Meanwhile, Red looks on as Andy slowly adjusts to life at Shawshank. Red is “the guy who can get stuff”, and Andy begins requesting strange items. He asks for a rock hammer so that he can continue his hobby of geology and he asks for a poster of Rita Hayworth in order to have someone pretty to look at. Andy and Red become friends, and soon Andy is fairly popular around the yard.
He cements his status as the favorite of both the guards and the prisoners when he gives valuable financial advice to Hadley in exchange for getting some beers for his friends. Soon, Warden Norton employs him in the prison library, which he turns into the most comprehensive and well-run prison library in New England. Eventually, Andy becomes the go-to guy in Shawshank, turning felons and guards into more civilized people.
In addition to the story, the movie has great themes and observations. Throughout his sentence, Andy claims that he is innocent of the crime. After he begins doing shady accounting for Norton, Andy comments to Red that it wasn’t until after his incarceration that he became a crook. The ideas of hope and fear are expertly dealt with in the film. Both are seen as having the possibility to do good or evil, and it all comes down to how we want our lives to turn out.
For a movie about prison life, The Shawshank Redemption is surprisingly uplifting. It has numerous moments of intense violence and hatred, but overall, it is a story about hope and the goodness that can exist even in the hardest of convicts. This movie should definitely be on every person’s list of movies to see in their lifetime.