Film Review: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Release Date: September 10th, 1994 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Directed by: Frank Darabont
Written by: Frank Darabont
Based on: Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King
Music by: Thomas Newman
Cast: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, James Whitmore, Mark Rolston, Jeffrey DeMunn, Ned Bellamy, Don McManus

Castle Rock Entertainment, 142 Minutes

Review:

“[to Red] I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living, or get busy dying.” – Andy Dufresne

I’ll admit that I had put off reviewing this for quite awhile. The reason being is that it’s just too good. In fact, it’s almost always ranked as the number one movie of all-time, according to the public, on IMDb. Every now and then The Godfather edges it out but usually just for a little moment in time.

Honestly, I can’t really dispute it being number one, even if it isn’t my favorite movie. It’s definitely high up on my list but I also tend to like a lot of things that aren’t what normal people and critics would consider great. And my favorite films are ones I like to watch a lot. The Shawshank Redemption isn’t a film that I want to watch a lot. It’s something I have to savor about once per decade because none of us are really worthy of its greatness and I don’t see it as a motion picture, as much as I see it as a spiritual experience. It transcends its medium, fully, and it shows us how great art can be and how it can speak to us on a deeper level than we can actually quantify or truly understand.

Am I overselling it for those who haven’t seen it? Absolutely not. This movie doesn’t have a single flaw. I really looked for one this time around, even against my better judgment, as I didn’t want to nitpick it, as it doesn’t deserve to be ripped apart and scrutinized. It deserves to be exactly what it is.

As a real lover of cinema but an atheist, I guess this is as close as I can get to feeling like God is living inside of me. And while this review may come across as cheesy and ridiculous to some, I honestly don’t know how anyone can watch this film and not be profoundly touched by it.

The thing is, reviewing The Shawshank Redemption is really hard because what the hell can anyone say about it other than it is legitimately perfect and doesn’t have a single flaw?

It’s fabulously directed, superbly written, stupendously acted, has incredible cinematography, features an absolutely amazing score, is perfectly paced and it makes you feel every single scene on a visceral level, causing you to look inside yourself and search for your own purpose and sense of real freedom in a world that often times can feel dark, bleak and hopeless.

The film shows you that there is more out there and it gives you hope that you can obtain it.

Rating: 10/10