Film Greats: Frank Darabont’s ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ (1994)

Edwin Pereyra

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When a film is rated as the second best film ever made in a popular internet site such as http://us.imdb.com/top_250_films
[Edited last by Edwin Pereyra on September 17, 2001 at 10:17 AM]
 

Lou Sytsma

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Excellent post Edwin.
I really like this film myself. I think you are being a bit too critical about the coincidences in the movie though. Really, most movies have them and within the context of this film I thought they were acceptable. I take the movie as more of a fable than a depiction of prison life.
Darabont does tend to spell out things a bit too much for the audience though.
Your comments about IMDB's rankings are perceptive. I take their rankings to be more like the People's Choice Awards as opposed to the Academy Awards.
I think that more people have taken time to record a vote for The Shawshank Redemption instead of the other movies is not an accident. Certainly Citizen Kane, Casablanca, etc may be overall better movies from a technical and artistic standpoint. Shawshank Redemption's strength is the emotional response it evokes from it's viewers. It's uplifting tale of hope creates a positive and strong reaction compared to the mixed feelings one is left with from the other movies you mentioned. That's why more people vote for it. Course it's just a theory

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Tino

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I really love The Shawshank Redemption. Is it the second greatest film of all time. To some people perhaps. I personally would put it somewhere in my to 15 or so.
I think the film works wonderfully on many levels, and also believe it to be a fable of sorts. Of course everything works out in favor of Andy, since this film IS about him and his imprisonment for a crime he didn't commit. I left this film satisfied that everyone got what they deserved more or less, good and bad.
Yes they are sterotypical characters in the film, but IMO, that just adds to its charm. I didn't feel manipulated at all since I allowed myself to accept what was going on in the context of the film.
It has great performances by Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, beautiful cinematography, a memorable score, great direction, and a genuinely moving story. That's enough for me.

As for the IMDB ratings. Does anyone really think they are indicative of anything other than
fans voting for their favorite films. To me, they are irrelevant and hold no importance whatsoever.
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Lou Sytsma

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Actually Tino I think the movie is really about Red.
Spoiler:Without Andy to show him the way - Red would have ended up like the James Whitmore character - the original librarian.
Andy knew and believed in hope - even though he was innocent. Red had to learn to believe in hope.
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Tino

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Lou
I suppose that's also true. How about it's Red's and Andy's story as told by Red?

I will revisit this film soon to see whether I still feel the same way.
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Ricky f

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This movie truly is Just pure and simply AMAZINGLY GREAT.
I cry everytime I watch this movie, I can never get tired of watching THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION.
I hope a SE DVD is released soon,
I Hope .....
Regards,
Ricky
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Aurel Savin

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Ricky ...
I am with you on this one ... this movie always brings a tear to my eye.
Edwin ... I actually believe the movie would ahve been a much lesser picture without the narration of Freeman.
His voiceover as he takes us over the last 15 minutes of the movie is like a story a father reads his son at bedtime.
Morgan deserved an Oscar just for his voiceover.
One of my top 5 movies ...
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Marty M

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After all the tragedies that befall characters in this movie, it is nice to see the movie have an uplifting ending. This movie also has a great soundtrack by Thomas Newman.
 

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Hope, dignity, friendship, perseverence, and as the title says, redemption. This is definately one of the great movies of all time. In relation to the IMDB rating, what I think is remarkable is that this film has held its ground when many others fade ( especially more contemporary movies). After 56000 votes, the average rating is 8.8. I hope to have the SE DVD version of this movie next year.
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Tino

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Before any rumors get started, there are currently NO plans for a SE of this film any time in the near future.
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Scott Weinberg

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Count me in. Although I generally find myself disliking the world's most popular movies, I'd be lying if I said I didn't love The Shawshank Redemption.
Lotsa people have voted for it because (like you mentioned) it's on cable twice a week. It's particularly beloved by guys. And despite the fact that movies like Casablanca and Citizen Kane are immortal classics, that doesn't mean that younger people will necessarily search them out.
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Bjorn Olav Nyberg

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The only dislike I might be able to muster up, is the fact that it wraps up incredibly neat in the end. Even though I did not catch it the first times I saw this movie, I thought it was kind of farfetched that Andy had all preparations ready to run on the day he was released from solitary. Even the weather was with him. But I guess the reason for this was that Andy had become institutionalised as well, given his responsibilities in the prison, so that he did not run at once when the preparation were ready. But of course after the murder of Tommy, and his time in solitary, what he had on the inside did not seem like much anyway.
Of course it seems to set us up for a fall for a while, followed by a big surprise and a incredible journey up as Andy escapes. And they even put us through it twice, second with Red.
Althoug I haven't read the novel it was based on, I do wonder though whether he or Frank Darabont saw "Escape from Alcatraz" first. There are a number of similarities, especially between Red in Shawshank and a number of characters in Alcatraz, but also a few other similarities. Of course Escape from Alcatraz is not the kind of uplifting movie Shawshank is.
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Lou Sytsma

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Marty, I too, love the soundtrack from this movie.
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Bruce Hedtke

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I would think Durabont more studied Grand Illusion as far as the similarities go. Of course, being an escape film, it's going to have clear similarities to that.
The thing about the film for me is that no matter how many times I watch it, that sense of anticipation and the plot twist and how it all interwove is still as powerful and as exhilarating as the first time. It truly does get better and better with each viewing.
Bruce
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Dome Vongvises

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Great topic, Edwin. Even I can get involved in this discussion.

The Shawshank Redemptionis one of the biggest surpises as a movie for me. I find the acting performances by the main actors as well as the supporting cast to be superb. For its purposes, the dialogue is thoughtful and intelligent (I had to come to prison to learn to be a criminal). The cinematography was fabulous as each shot captured was able to convey its emotions and essence. But most importantly, it was an interesting story and succeeded by its story telling.
Everything is spelled out in this film and Darabont does not allow its audience to think for themselves or arrive at their own conclusions.
I'm a little confused by this criticism, Edwin. This seems to be a huge point of criticism for a lot of movies (a la Dark City). For the purposes of just this thread alone, are there moments in Shawshank that you could name where it would've been better left, in the simplest terms, a mystery to the audience?
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Edwin Pereyra

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quote: For the purposes of just this thread alone, are there moments in Shawshank that you could name where it would've been better left, in the simplest terms, a mystery to the audience?[/quote]
More and more movies nowadays use test audiences to dictate its final product – a disconcerting trend, in my opinion. I don’t know if The Shawshank Redemption is one of those films or just Darabont’s need to end this film far too neatly. But it was said that one of the proposed endings for this movie was the scene where Red is shown riding on a bus towards Mexico with Freeman’s voiceover, “I hope…”
Does he make it to Mexico? Does he finally meet up with Andy in the end? Was he also fully redeemed? Open-ended endings like that for me, would have been more powerful and thought provoking. I like it sometimes, when the audiences are left wondering for themselves and arriving at their own conclusions. The ending as it is now, became far too predictable.
I also think that Morgan Freeman’s performance was quite good. But a part of me also asks whether there is really much of a challenge for Freeman in this role.
~Edwin
[Edited last by Edwin Pereyra on September 19, 2001 at 11:09 AM]
 

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I agree with Edwin on this one. And I am mystified at how so many people (actually mostly on the Internet) call Shawshank one of the greatest films of all time. For example, I can name five movies FROM THAT YEAR that I think are better-Quiz Show, Pulp Fiction, Red, Hoop Dreams, and Heavenly Creatures. Yet some (many, if the IMDB is any indication) people have Shawshank as one of the greatest films OF ALL TIME. I wonder if so many people would be behind this film if it had been a success like Forrest Gump was at the box office and the Oscars.
 

Lou Sytsma

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Jarod - I tried explaining the reason why so many people praise Shawshank Redemption in my post above.
When one is finished watching Shawshank you walk away feeling good about yourself and your fellow man. It's message of hope is food for the soul.
The other pictures you mentioned are fine pictures but they don't leave you feeling upbeat about life.
Sure Shawshank is predictable and contains many plot conveniences but in the end that doesn't matter. It's the message it sends and how it is sent that counts.
This is turning into a good thread!
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In regard to the ending, IMO, that last shot is the one scene that brought the whole film together for me and made it complete. Everyone else got what they deserved in the film, why not Red and Andy?
Should the film have ended with Red saying "I hope"? Sure that would have left it open to conjecture and debate, but in this case, for this film, I thought the ending as it is was perfect.
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But it was said that one of the proposed endings for this movie was the scene where Red is shown riding on a bus towards Mexico with Freeman’s voiceover, “I hope…”

That is my one complaint about this movie: it should have ended at that scene. It would have been the PERFECT ending, because the whole movie is about hope. As it was, everything was tied up too neatly, and we were left not with hope, but with definitive knowledge. Knowledge is not what this movie was about, and I wish it hadn't ended the way it did.
Great movie otherwise though, but the IMDB rating is way off.
/Mike
 

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