THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
DIRECTOR: FRANK DARABONT
USA 1994
CINEMATOGRAPHY: ROGER DEAKINS
MUSIC: THOMAS NEWMAN
CAST: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, Mark Rolston
SUPER FEATURES: The two lead actors are phenomenal.


Every once in a while a film comes along, that has all the makings of a very unpleasant, and frustrating experience. One wants to see it, and yet, one does not want to see it.

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, is one of those films that really has very little going for it. It doesn't have the flaunt in your face, Steve McQueen attitude, and neither does it have the complete sub-serviance, which has made for some very depressing films. But it has two things going for it. A magnificent script, and two actors that really take the whole thing into another level. One worth seeing, even if it is just for the acting work that these two have put together.

It is the story of a friendship that two inmates develop over a rather large period of time, and the eventual breakdown that each character goes through during the time. And the difference between one and the other, is that one has hopes, and the other does not know what that word means, except that it is a dangerous word.

In spite of a very dangerous, and malicious warden, they manage to keep it going. And one day, one of them is capable of doing the one thing that many have lost their lives for. To punish the main guard and the warden, for their evil deeds, abusive behavior, and murder of several inmates.

But what helps one of these survive, is that he does not really have a plan, but he does have an idea that he can do something worth while, which happens to work as a distraction to his real plan, which no one knows. He fooled everyone.

The nicest thing in this film is the patience with which each character is brought out, and developed. And it is done is a subtle way, that never allows anyone to find out what really is going on. Even Red, his closest friend, has no idea of what is going on. But one day, when all rise, someone is missing, and even the warden thinks there is a conspiracy around him, until they happen to look in one place, they never checked before. Somehow, this prisoner, who had done so much for the prison and its inmates, manage to get by without being inspected as he might have been.

And the other various touches also abound. There is a chance that the person who killed his wife and lover, if it wasn't him -- which he claims he wasn't -- happens to be in the same jail, and even boasted of it. And when it is checked out, the warden does away with the kid, rather than allow anyone to leave those walls, for fear that they would be found out. In other words, by the time they leave they don't remember anything, and are so shocked at the external life that they will never remember anything inside the jail. And they won't make it, because their will to live is gone.

A superb film, with thinking twists at every turn, it never gives up on its characters, which is a treat, and a complement to the writers and the director, who kept the film on line for every single nuance. The last 15 to 20 minutes is so different and nice, that one is just aghast at the whole thing. Like the other inmates were as well. But this escape does one thing that few others have managed to do. It brings some justice to the system. And, finally, we may even be inclined to believe that this man was innocent, after all. He didn't have a will to break in the first place. He had nothing to deny, like all the others had.

Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins are magnificent, and truly a treat to watch from beginning to the end of the film. And the whole thing is so well written, that it is hard to say that it is boring, and ugly, despite its many unsavory themes and suggestions.

4 GIBLOONS

 

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