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.
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.
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 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.
on July 19, 2000
This movie is a real masterpiece: the poetic dialogues, the protagonists' intense performance, the human values of dignity and solidarity. Andy is symbol of the concept the ancient Romans called "gutta cavat lapidem" ("drop digs stone"). In other words, Andy waits for the right moment to be free: he knows his innocence and is aware that it is necessary to be careful and wisely strategic. He is like Ulysses, who disguises himself as a sheep, in order to escape from Polyphemus' cave, without hesitating to renounce strategically his leader demeanour, making himself mistaken instead of a sheep. In modern culture the metaphor of sheep resists as an idiom defining a condition of passive subjection. Andy's condition of frustration and slavery in prison is the same. Polyphemus (as well as the director of prison, in this movie), feels the backs of all his sheeps, without being sharp enough to find out that Ulysses and his friends are underneath their bellies. Ulysses' "eyes of mind" are always open and allow him to save his own life. Similarly, Andy's "eyes of hope" are always open, as well, nevertheless the other prisoners provoke him fiercely and try to discourage him. Equally, once he returned to Ithaca, Ulysses pretends to be an old beggar, in order to enter his home without being immediately eliminated by the suitors who tried to replace him during his absence (just as in this movie it could happen to a prisoner who tried to escape during a moment of desperation). He pretends to be weak and poor while actually he did not lose his strength: he is waiting for the right moment to reveal himself and assert his power again. The same happens to Andy, who demonstrates the courage of the wait and the strategic attitude of a champion of chess (another fascinating metaphor recurring in the movie). Using the last verse of The Police's song "Wrapped around your finger", "Devil and the deep blue sea behind me vanish in the air you'll never find me, I will turn your face to alabaster, then you'll find your servant is your master. And you'll be wrapped around my finger". It is the upright man's redemption. Hope, intelligence, self-control and patience at last win. A great lesson of life for all of us.
on April 24, 2002
A heart-warming prison drama set in the late 40's (but is in the 60's by the time it finishes), The Shawshank Redemption tells the story of a bank accountant sent to the Shawshank prison convicted of murdering his wife, wherein he meets Ellis Redding, a long time prison server whom he evetually strikes up a close friendship with. The film also briefly follows the experiences of other prisoners, representing the unfair treatment some recieve whilst in prison, cleverly allowing the film to expand on other issues apart from friendship.
Although the film unfolds at a slow pace, we are justly rewarded for our patience near the end when the film throws up one of the greatest twists in film history (don't worry I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it!) which makes the film worth watching for this part alone.
The Shawshank Redemption is successful (like so many other films and stories) because it focuses so well on the theme of friendship. When watching the film you long for yourself to have a friendship as strong and trusting as Andy and Ellis' to the point where one could say that you yourself would like to be in that prison (but do not be mistaken to think that the whole film glamourises prison, it can sometimes quite the opposite as some of the brtual and shocking scenes show).
However, and contrary to what many people say, the Shawshank Redemption is not an all-out masterpiece. It lacks that extra something, that extra bite that deprives it from being a complete masterpiece (but don't get me wrong, it's still head and shoulders above most of the nonsence released on the screens nowadays) but is an excellent film nonetheless.
on March 10, 2004
There are movies made for money and movies made for the sake of propagating the Art of Cinema,these appear like Comet once in a Cinema life-time,instead of gloom and doom they lift our sullen mood-Shawashank Redemption is one such movie with the premise thatif you loose hope you stop living."Rita hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" a Novella, written by the most prolific fiction writer-Stephen King, fell into the mail box of an avid reader called Frank Darabont who had relunctantly subscribed to the Book of the month Club. He read this book in passing and after the second reading bought the rights from King and after nine long incubation period came "Shawshank Redemption" the movie. I would be doing a disservice if divulge the story suffice to say this is a story of a convict who has more convictions in his soul than the allegged convictions and you want to hear this story from the greatest narrator of all times, Morgan Freeman,you have to see for yourself the livid performances and take my word this is like the greatest Buffet, you will keep going for more and you will never have satiety since this is the greatest drama ever told and told brilliantly by Frank Darabont. Great movies have one thing in common,a Screen writer who also wields the megaphone-like Coppola in Godfather and Scorcese in Good Fellas-God bless these kindred since they have made some great movies and Shawshank Redemption is one of them.
on April 2, 2001
This film really perplexes me. With the hundreds of people I have interviewed and the thousands of surveys I have sent out to video store customers, who have seen The Shawshank Redemption, I must say, you either love or hate this film. There seems to be no gray area here.
There was obviously some disdain, hate, and indifference at the box office in the fall of 1994. Nobody saw it. Nobody cared to see it. According to Variety magazine, this film grossed domestically a total of $28.6 million and only lasted 9 weeks in the national theaters before it was yanked and shelved for good. For those of you keeping score at home that's an average of $3.17 million a week. That's a joke!!
Heck, "Charlie's Angels" made over $40 million in it's first day of release. According to Variety magazine, "Mission Impossible II" made $63 million in its first day of national release. Now that's firepower at the Box Office and the only true way to prove the artistic value and quality of a motion picture. Furthermore, that's the only way American audiences keep score!
Back to Shawshank. I must be the only person who found middle ground with this movie. It's a good movie, but not nearly a great one. There are a lot of flaws, annoying scenes, and very unrealistic occurrences that just unexplainably happen (a few times I almost wanted to get up and walk out).
Here are some of the things that are laughable and flawed in The Shawshank Redemption.
1.) Would or would a prison NOT keep a convicted murderer felon locked up at all times; especially in the presence of the prison Warden. EVERY scene Andy is in, he never has handcuffs on. Therefore the ending scene would never have taken place.
2.) Would someone please explain to me how they where going to get Rita Heyworth snuck into the prison? This happens to be one of the most ridiculous scenes in movie history and very laughable. When I was in the theater there were well deserved sneers and laughs of sarcasm and contempt. This was the movie theater scene when the inmates are watching the Rita Heyworth movie and Andy sneaks in requesting to have Rita Heyworth.
3.) The narration is weak and unjustified. Narration in films are always a sign of weakness in the story and plot. It is always used to cover up holes in the story; unless it conveys the protagonist's inner feelings and thought. Here, it conveys somebody (his friend) who is basically telling us what we are witnessing on the screen. It's like listening to a football play by play announcer describing the action on the field. This does not advance our involvement in the film at all.
4.) The acting of Tim Robbins is an embarrassment. He's too wooden and stiff. Furthermore, he mumbles too much in his Brando imitation of "On the Waterfront" and is barely intelligible.
5.) It's hard to believe the prison brutality in this film. I find it hard to believe that the Warden's 'right hand man' Hadley, would terrorize the inmates arbitrarily.
Here are some of the good things about this film:
1.) It's not a bad story and at times inspirational. The dramatic arc is right on target and there are plot surprises.
2.) The pacing by the director is very good. The suspenseful buildup is well timed and the scenes snap in place with good tempo and rhythm. 3.) If you can get by the dry, aloof, and uninspired performance by Robbins, you will really like the acting job by Freeman. This is a well rounded, three-dimensional performance by Freeman and he really saves the film's credibility.
4.) The villain is believable and more importantly sinister. We wouldn't expect the prison warden to be the villain, but here he is. It's well written and more importantly, played out realistically.
5.) The sound engineering is excellent. Put this movie on a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound System with 14 speakers running at 140 watts with 8 Ohms a peice for the front 5 speakers and 110 watts per channel for your surround speakers into 8 ohms from 20Hz to 20,000Khz with less than 0.07 percent THD and you'll be blown away. Also, try to keep your Digital-to-analog audio converter at 24-bit/96 kHz and your frequency response at (+/- 3 dB): 10 Hz to 100,000KHz to achieve the perfect sound for the DVD's soundtrack.
You wouldn't expect a film with plain sets and dull interiors to have exceptional sound, but the sound engineers really pulled off a miracle on this movie. Again, you've got to hear this on a Dolby 5.1, Dolby Pro Logic XDL342, Standard Dolby Digital, or Dolby VMXL38 Logic ACM 283 System.
Well, that's all folks. A movie you either love OR hate--could be LOVE TO HATE as so many of you have--but somehow, I found the middle ground and saw the gray lining. Ain't I really objective!
on July 7, 2003
I remember when this movie came out. I was sitting in my dorm room watching TV when the trailor came on and I thought there is no way I would ever watch it. A story about men in prison with no action, no love...what does that leave?? Well, months later I was talking to a friend and he mentioned how amazing it was. I didn't know what to say but since I needed something to watch asked if I could borrow it. I sat down with my parents, telling them I didn't really have an interest in it, but that we should give it a go because of my friend's recommendation.
After watching it I can say that it had more than I could have imagined; story (far better than the book), emotion (hard to put into words) and the simple notion of hope. I rate it as the best movie I have ever seen. I recommend it to everyone I come across and to this day not one person has said they were disappointed with it. Everyone should watch this movie at least once...although I guarantee if you watch it a second time that you'll see and feel things that you missed the first time.