‘The Shawshank Redemption’ elegantly tells a story of redemption, hope, and friendship with an unusual perspective from prisoners. Although the concept of a convicted felon, swearing his’s innocent, is not cutting-edge, the artistry and storytelling of this film set itself apart in its genre. According to The New York Times, Janet Maslin praises the movie for its “slow, gentle story of camaraderie and growth” in a genre that’s saturated with similar sentiments.
The movie opens with a banker named Andy Dufresne, who was accused of murdering his wife and lover, so he goes to court. Unfortunately, he is found guilty and sent Shawshank prison for two life sentences. There he meets a diverse group of prisoners that soon become his friends, but Red, in particular, questions the meaning of life, death, and hope as he gets to know Andy.
An element that was spot on was the acting because each character was memorable and distinct throughout the movie. They also irresistibly drew the audience in as the plot developed because the viewers became increasingly invested in the characters, especially Andy and Red. Interestingly enough, Frank Darabont, the director chose Morgan Freeman as Red due to his “demanding presence and demeanor”, according to IMDb.com. As a result, Freeman’s part added nuances to the film that otherwise would not have existed. For instance, he narrated over various parts of the movie, which gave the viewers context to what was occurring. Plus, his narration added more intimacy between himself and the audience.
Moreover, the plot was thoughtfully written because the storyline had many unexpected twists and turns. Thus, it kept the audience engaged as they witnessed the hardships and small victories the prisoners went through, such as the time when Andy convinced the guards to buy them beers. Likewise, the plot did an excellent job of pacing the film as it slowed down in times of meaningful moments and dialogues. While other times, the pacing picked up during times of action and suspense.
Furthermore, the movie addressed the problems of prison and the criminal justice system in a subtle way. For instance, the filmmakers gracefully illustrated Red and Brooks struggle outside the prison walls because it was all they knew. They felt important inside the prison, but they knew they didn’t belong outside in society. As a result, one can see that the movie handled heavy themes such as the mentioned with care. Plus, after the film came out, according to IMDb.com, Frank Darabont became one of few filmmakers “to receive a nomination for the Best Picture Academy Award” as a new director.
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Overall, the movie was well-made, and it demanded the attention of its viewers for the majority of the time. Likewise, the movie showed a realistic insight into what prison life is like because it was not pleasing to the senses; however, the genre of this film justifies that. The atmosphere of the prison emphasized how uncomfortable the prisoners must’ve felt. Most importantly though, this movie should be recognized for including relevant topics such as prison reform, sexual assault, friendship, and death. In my opinion, this movie tied in stigmatized topics realistically and thoughtfully. As a result, the filmmakers opened opportunities for us to talk about these difficult topics.