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The Shawshank Redemption: An extremely underrated classic about life's philosophy.

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The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption

Director: Frank Darabont
Writer: Stephen King & Frank Darabont
Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton

Available on Prime Video

ABOUT: The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption, a much-loved and highly underrated classic, released in the year 1994 with a running time of 2 hours 22 minutes, is based on the novella by Stephen King which goes by the name "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption". 

I have practically lost count of the number of times I have watched this movie, yet I am always short of words when it comes to writing about it. This movie wasn't an instant hit when it was released but eventually gained popularity by word of mouth after being nominated for the Academy Awards. I feel bewildered that it did not win in any of the categories. Written and directed by Frank Darabont, the movie begins with the song "I didn't care" by "The Ink Spots" while Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) who is a banker, gets two life sentences back to back for the murder of his wife and her lover and is sent to the Shawshank State Penitentiary. 

The film revolves around Andy's life in prison thereafter and how he copes up with the fact that he is indeed sentenced to life despite professing to be innocent. The entire movie is narrated by Ellis "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman) who is a fellow prisoner and the entire movie is shown from his perspective rather than Andy's. Morgan Freeman's narration makes watching Shawshank an experience of a lifetime. Never in the history of cinema have I ever seen a more perfect movie that revolves around Hope, Friendship, Faith, and Human connection. 

Shawshank is not a prison movie per se. It is more about life's philosophy than just a piece of entertainment. 


Bank Merchant Andy Dufresne is convicted of the murder of his wife and her lover, and sentenced to life imprisonment at Shawshank prison. Life seems to have taken a turn for the worse, but fortunately, Andy befriends some of the other inmates, in particular a character known only as Red. Over time Andy finds ways to live out life with relative ease as one can in a prison, leaving a message for all that while the body may be locked away in a cell, the spirit can never be truly imprisoned.


The background score by Thoman Newman expresses so much more than any words could express. The scene where Andy locks himself in a prison office and plays "Duettino-Sull'aria" duet on loudspeaker from Mozart's opera is perhaps one of the greatest scenes in the history of films. Red narrates "I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. The truth is I don't want to know. Some things are better left unsaid. I like to think they were singing about something so beautiful it can't be expressed into words, it can't be expressed into words, and makes your heartache because of it". That entire scene sums up the beauty of the music. 

The cinematography of The Shawshank Redemption is simply fantastic. The use of lighting and shadows throughout the film is simple yet so effective. It sets the tone so precisely that it does not miss to make the audience understand the character's phycology and his state of mind. Throughout the film we see the characters surrounded by walls which makes us feel claustrophobic and in the end when Red goes out to meet his friend Andy as a free man, one sees the beautiful view of the Pacific ocean, and Red narrating his final words "I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope" goes out to say so much. 

There are so many impactful scenes that never fail to move me and shatter my heart every single time I watch them. All the actors have given such unparalleled performances. Bob Gunton as the corrupt Warden, William Sadler as Heywood, Clancey Brown as Capt. Hedley is simply terrific. James Whitmore's character Brooks Halten (one of my favourites) gives a big lump in my throat every time I see him living outside the walls that have institutionalized him. Brooks unable to adjust to his new life and missing his pet Jake (the crow) makes me ache in so many places I did not even know existed. I have never seen a better performance. To quote Andy "Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies" is perhaps the biggest life lesson for me. This movie has made me cry, smile, made my eyes misty, made me feel angry, made me feel hopeful, and made me feel all the kinds of emotions a human is capable of. My words can never do justice to this movie no matter how much ever I write about it.  

Shawshank for me is a love affair that is going to last a lifetime. 


I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. 

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