on January 11, 2009
The Movie itself: The Shawshank Redemption is not just another movie, its not another movie adaptation either. Its a tale of hope & redemption. Its rated No.1 on IMDB by users, and often ranks amongst top 5 movies on other internet ranking sites. Often dubbed as a modern classic, this movie has developed a cult following and is considered as best on screen adaptation of a Stephen King story. I can go on typing pages about how good this movie is and how absorbed I am in it every time I see it, but I think you all get the point, so let's move on to the fun stuff.
Video: I have owned this movie in all the formats ever released, the original DVD, the 10th Anniversary Edition and now this one. Yes this one by far is the best. The helicopter shots of the prison and its yards are simply gorgeous. I found the picture to be a little too smooth in some close up shots but sitting 6-10 feet away I doubt if anyone will notice that. The colors pallet is very consistent and gives us very little to complain. Warner's 1080p/VC-1 encode presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio is a wonderful upgrade for the previous owners of the movie who have upgraded to HDTV sets.
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 is perfectly balanced. From the dialogue to sobbing, screams & whispers the sound is crystal clear. There are no action sequences and Bourne Trilogy type chases in this movie, so the soundtrack and the level of its loudness leaves very little to be desired.
Final Words: From "When those bars slam home, you know its for real" to "Get busy livin' or Get busy Dyin'" this movie is what true Hollywood cinema is all about. From being a box office failure to a moderate success (when it got 7 academy nominations) this epic has turned in to a must watch movie in Home Video history. Blockbuster and Netflix still rank this movie as one of the most rented movies in their database and there is a good reason for it........ its a brilliant movie with a huge replay value, one never gets tired of it. Highly recommended.
Just wanted to comment on the limited edition blu-ray steelbook version. This is one nice steelbook! The front (as you can obviously see) has Tim Robbins in the rain, the back has Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman playing checkers in the prison yard, and the inside artwork shows the prisoners scattered around the prison yard. It looks really nice. Colours are nice. Great build quality.
This steelbook only contains the blu-ray version of the film (no DVD copy, no digital copy, etc). The 1080p picture quality is superb and the 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track is excellent. This release also contains a strong amount of special features (director's commentary, making-of features, interviews, etc.).
Overall, I can easily recommend this blu-ray steelbook.
on June 30, 2013
Narrated by Morgan Freeman this is a well scripted, well cast, drama ultimately about the triumph of the human spirit over the very worst of circumstances. Tim Robins, a middle class banker, is wrongfully convicted in the 1940s of murdering his wife. Nothing has prepared him for the brutal realities of prison life, As the years roll by Robins becomes close friends with Morgan Freeman, a fellow inmate also serving a life sentence, and ultimately both rise above the cruelty of their fellow inmates, and a corrupt administration. While the very happy ending is predictable nevertheless it is a great movie.
on June 11, 2004
Stephen King claims that this is the best film adaptation of one of his stories. Although my vote would be for The Shining (a film he hates) I see what he means. The novella, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, is one of King's "non-horror" works. As such, director Frank Darabont doesn't fall into the trap that almost all other filmmakers do when adapting King's work: ignore characterization for cheap thrills. One of the things that make Stephen King a great writer (and I mean this) is that his books are about PEOPLE. He makes us care about the characters, and then we are frightened when they are put in jeopardy. The movie, The Shawshank Redemption, succeeds because it is all about the characters - who they are, and the journey they take.
The story is about an innocent man (Tim Robbins) sentenced to life in prison - well, two life sentences, actually. He forms a friendship with a fellow-inmate named Red (Morgan Freeman) and uses his own natural resources to create a life for himself. The film does differ from the source material in several ways. Ironically, because of the shortness of King's story, more is put-in than taken-out. The ending is changed slightly, but it works for the screen. The message of the film (and the book) is that hope springs eternal. "Either get busy living or get busy dying." Considering the enduring popularity of the piece, it seems most people opt for the former.
on July 18, 2004
At the heart of this extraordinary movie is a brilliant and indelible performance by Morgan Freeman as Red, the man who knows how to get things, the "only" guilty man at Shawshank prison. He was nominated by the Academy for Best Actor in 1995 but didn't win. (Tom Hanks won for Forrest Gump.) What Freeman does so beautifully is to slightly underplay the part so that the eternal boredom and cynicism of the lifer comes through, and yet we can see how very much alive with the warmth of life the man is despite his confinement. Someday Morgan Freeman is going to win an Academy Award and it will be in belated recognition for this performance, which I think was a little too subtle for some Academy members to fully appreciate at the time.
But Freeman is not alone. Tim Robbins plays the hero of the story, banker Andy Dufresne, who has been falsely convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. Robbins has a unique quality as an actor in that he lends ever so slightly a bemused irony to the characters he plays. It is as though part of him is amused at what he is doing. I believe this is the best performance of his career, but it might be compared with his work in The Player (1992), another excellent movie, and in Mystic River (2003) for which he won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor.
It is said that every good story needs a villain, and in the Bible-quoting, Bible-thumping, massively hypocritical, sadistic Warden Samuel Norton, played perfectly by Bob Gunton, we have a doozy. I want to tell you that Norton is so evil that fundamentalist Christians actually hate this movie because of how precisely his vile character is revealed. They also hate the movie because of its depiction of violent, predatory homosexual behavior (which is the reason the movie is rated R). On the wall of his office (hiding his safe with its ill-gotten contents and duplicitous accounts) is a framed plaque of the words "His judgment cometh and that right soon." The irony of these words as they apply to the men in the prison and ultimately to the warden himself is just perfect. You will take delight, I promise.
Here is some other information about the movie that may interest you. As most people know, it was adapted from a novella by Stephen King entitled "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption." Rita Hayworth figures in the story because Red procures a poster of her for Andy that he pins up on the wall of his cell. The poster is a still from the film Gilda (1946) starring her and Glenn Ford. We see a clip from the black and white film as the prisoners watch, cheering and hollering when Rita Hayworth appears. If you haven't seen her, check out that old movie. She really is gorgeous and a forerunner of Marilyn Monroe, who next appears on Andy's wall in a still from The Seven Year Itch (1955). It's the famous shot of her in which her skirt is blown up to reveal her shapely legs. Following her on Andy's wall (and, by the way, these pinups figure prominently in the plot) is Rachel Welsh from One Million Years B.C. (1966). In a simple and effective device these pinups show us graphically how long Andy and Red have been pining away.
Frank Darabont's direction is full of similar devices that clearly and naturally tell the story. There is Brooks (James Whitmore) who gets out after fifty years but is so institutionalized that he can't cope with life on the outside and hangs himself. Playing off of this is Red's periodic appearance before the parole board where his parole is summarily REJECTED. Watch how this plays out at the end.
The cinematography by Roger Deakins is excellent. The editing superb: there's not a single dead spot in the whole movie. The difference between the good guys (Red, Andy, Brooks, etc.) and the bad guys (the warden, the guards, the "sisters," etc.) is perhaps too starkly drawn, and perhaps Andy is a bit too heroic and determined beyond what might be realistic, and perhaps the "redemption" is a bit too miraculous in how beautifully it works out. But never mind. We love it.
All in all this is a great story vividly told that will leave you with a true sense of redemption in your soul. It is not a chick flick, and that is an understatement. It is a male bonding movie about friendship and the strength of character, about going up against what is wrong and unfair and coming out on top through pure true grit and a little luck.
The Shawshank Redemption sits at the top of the IMDB Top 250 with a rating of 9.2/10, so it clearly appeals to the majority of those who have seen it. It's also hated by some because they can't agree that it's the best film ever made. While I understand that argument, I find it difficult to believe that the haters can't respect it on some level. However, I don't care about any of that, I love the film.
The story begins in 1946 with the trial of Andy Dufresne (Robbins) and we see him convicted for murdering his wife and her lover. The next 30 minutes shows him arriving at the prison and slowly adapting to life behind bars. Darabont uses a number of violent scenes to establish that prison life is somewhat brutal, but he doesn't dwell on it as the film progresses.
This is a film about hope and friendship more than anything else. It just happens to be set in a prison. Andy befriends Red (Freeman), because he's a man who knows how to obtain items from the outside world. Their friendship and mutual respect is there from the start and develops throughout the film.
Andy is an educated man and he finally attracts the attention of the most brutal prison guard in a memorable rooftop scene. The guard has inherited some money and fears that the IRS will take a big chunk. Andy shows him a way to avoid losing any of it. That single event is the catalyst for significant change in Andy's life. The guards begin to protect him and he's given a job which enables him to use some of his knowledge. He's well-liked by both the inmates and the guards.
Warden Norton (Gunton) is one of the most corrupt men in Shawshank, even though he runs the place. He seems fairly harmless, but he's actually evil, greedy and dangerous. He provides the main source of conflict in the film.
Andy strives to improve prison life for everyone, as evidenced by his campaign to win funding for the library. He makes the best of his situation at all times.
The final 30 minutes of the film is extremely uplifting. Stephen King wrote the short story on which the film is based and his influence can clearly be seen. One of the things I like about King is the sense of justice present in his stories. If you think back to The Green Mile, you'll see what I mean. The Shawshank Redemption covers 20 years of Andy's life. Darabont wanted the final scene to be omitted, but the conclusion is still incredible.
In the 18 years since the film was made, you've probably heard dozens of Morgan Freeman voice-overs. If you watch the film, you'll see why.
One of the themes present in the film is how inmates can become institutionalized. Imagine being in prison for 50 years. How would things have changed in the outside world? It would be bad enough missing 20 years. Think about the advances made since the early 1990s. If you stepped out of a prison cell after 20 years, wouldn't you wonder why everyone walked around talking into their cellphones? You might light a cigarette and be arrested.
I would recommend The Shawshank Redemption to anyone. You might not like it, but there's a strong chance you will. Robbins and Freeman are both superb. I watch the film twice a year and never tire of seeing it.
on December 16, 2007
How many ways can I list why this is best movie of all time?
1. The most perfect ending of any movie I've ever seen. 2. Best story - Steven King (not even a fan of his) 3. Best acting performance: Morgan Freeman, absolutely
amazing, best ever (Tim Robbins is brilliant also) 4. Best narration - Morgan Freeman's character 5. Most uplifting, touching, moving story ever told. 6. Outstanding soundtrack 7. Beautiful cinematography. 8. Most evil antagonist - The warden 9. Best dialogue - so many memorable phrases and quotes!
I could keep going. I've never encountered a movie that has touched so many people.
The Shawshank Redemption is a story of life itself. It is not about a person in prison, it is about the soul and the battle it accepts and carries on to deserve the life it has been given by God. I watched the movie for the first time some months ago. That evening I was about to go out with some friends but out meeting was canceled and I had to stay home. Being unhappy about that, I started watching the movie on the TV just by chance, not knowing about its existence before that at all. At first I was skeptic, I admit that. But oh God, at the end of it I was screaming and jumping in my room at 1 AM! It gave me so much emotions and so much hope, I had never felt before that. I could hardly believe that a movie could make me feel that way - so excited, so happy about my life, leaving me believing so much in my own self. It is a great story of what the strength of your thoughts can make you do. In The Shawshank Redemption desire does not make you weak, just the opposite - gives you wings to fly away from fear, fly closer and closer to freedom. Morgan Freeman's voice is just another advantage that makes the movie even more impressive. Tim Robbins' act is just beyond perfection! I bought the DVD this summer and every time I feel weak or just bad about something, I watch the movie. It has become my personal shrink, making me feel strong enough anytime I watch it. Can never imagine a better movie made anywhere in the world even after 1000 years!
on August 20, 2007
like "The Shawshank Redemption,"The Green Mile" is another case of a
Stephen King story which translates well from the page to the screen.as
in "Mile",this movie is also directed by Frank Darabont,who also wrote
the screenplay.another similarity is the prison setting and the fact
that the movie is seen and told through the eyes of one man (Morgan
Freeman)who just happens to be a prison lifer and the things he sees as
the years go by.he tells the story of one man who becomes a
prisoner(Tim Robbins) and who he becomes friends with.the movie then
chronicles their friendship and struggles in the prison system.unlike
"The Green Mile",there is no mystical or supernatural element to this
film.however,this film is of the same calibre of "Mile",owing to its
solid writing, acting, and direction."Shawshank" is very dramatic,yet
very compelling.it's also a very moving tale.it will likely impact you
emotionally and intellectually. and before i forget,i must also mention
the ending,which i thought was very strong.for me,"The Shawshank
Redemption" is a strong 5/5
on January 7, 2004
Beware! This is NOT a true "Widescreen Edition."
There are many positive reviews, so rather than restating them, I want to speak about this so-called widescreen edition.
I was terribly disappointed to discover it is merely a "standard" format with black bars at the top and bottom, rather than the theatrical screen ratio!
A while ago, I had been given the VHS "standard" format video as a gift. I was excited to discover the "widescreen" format here on Amazon and purchased it immediately. I suspected something was wrong within the first few moments of watching the video...the tops of peoples' heads were "chopped off" and the composition of shots was odd.
When I compared it to my "standard" version, I was shocked by what I saw...heads were not "chopped off" and the images were better composed! It was very obvious that black bars were added by the studio. The movie was shown on TV recently, and I compared the images there as well, and got the same result.
I've just read another customer review for the DVD "widescreen" version with the same complaint. I'm extremely disappointed that the movie studio would do this and offended that they would try to put-one-over on their customers.
on June 28, 2001
This is an feel-good movie with good acting and a good story. Many people think that this is enough and think the film is "perfect" or "the greatest film EVER!!!" You who think this are wrong. This film is funny but unoriginal and play's into a crowd's need to reaffirm those values which it holds dear like hope or love. If you really want to feel good, experience a new way of seeing life by doing something you've never done or fall in love for the first time or again. This film smothers originality and art under a web of two-dimensionalism and complacenct inactivity. The protagonist escapes, justice prevails but nothing is said about a world where injustice is the norm and big business crushes the lives of the underpriveledged, forcing them into the occupations that "necessitate" penal provisions like those demonstrated in the film. Someone wrote in a review that this film "sums up what life is about." If that is the case, life is a very empty, hollow sum.
The politics of Hollywood aside, if anyone who gave this film such supreme praise bothered to delve into the past, study the films that have already been created, she would realize that there have been films made of such overpowering beauty and such incredible emotional intensity that make this film look like the rock next to the crystal. That this movie should rest in people's minds as a piece of perfection while films like "The Passenger" by Antonioni linger in limbo, out-of-print, is a true crime. If you need to be supersaturated with hope and wonder, see "Wild Strawberries," by Bergman or "Ikiru" by Kurosawa, both incredible and "inspirational" films that elevate life, but deftly and with a sense of beauty that towers over Shawshank through its sincerity. Please do not comment on my review until you have seen both films.