This is my 16th of 31 reviews of Stephen King adaptations as part of the joint Blogathon that Darren (of Movie Reviews 101) and I are running this month in honor of the great horror writer.
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Number of Times Seen – Too many to count (Theater, DVD, 20 May 2013 and 14 Oct 2015)
Link to original review – Here
Brief Synopsis – The story of the budding friendship between two inmates in a Maine prison whose bond gets stronger as the years go by.
My Take on it – It’s really so interesting how most people have heard of and seen this movie, but have no clue that it was originally written by horror master Stephen King.
Yes, (for the uninitiated) King doesn’t only write horror, he also can right a great story about the lifelong unlikely friendship between two men sitting in prison, accused of murder.
No, this movie isn’t a fairy tale, there are scenes of brutal prison life, but they take a backseat to this tale about friendship, justice and of course hope.
Twenty one years ago, most people probably laughed ta this movie’s title because it made little to no normal sense, but now just about anyone who knows about movies could tell you what Shawshank is.
I had already been living here in Israel when this movie came out and the way the title was translated in some ways is a clearer indication as to what the movie is about; it was called Walls of Hope. That is ultimately what this entire amazing movie is all about; how does one find a way to keep up hope in a desperate situation.
The choice to cast Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins in the two main roles was brilliant. In the book, Red really is Irish, but in order to accommodate the racial change of the character, thery kept the line in, but used it as a joke instead of being a serious answer to the question of how he got that name.
I cannot think of any other actor who could conceivably play Red as well as Freeman, so kudos to Director Frank Darabont or to whomever made that brilliant decision.
Robbins is also amazing as Andy and like Freeman, I cant imagine anyone else in that role. There are rumors that Tom Cruise, Kevin Costner and Tom Hanks were all offered the role but thankfully they all turned it down.
This movie was considered a total flop in the theater (thankfully I got to see it there) and only became popular when it was released on video. It has since been known as one of the best movies ever and is high on many lists. It is still the reigning champ on IMDB and has been listed as #1 for many many years. I would be amazed to see what movie could one day surpass it.
This was Frank Darabont’s feature directorial debut and to date has only directed 4 movies. I love 3 of them (this, The Green Mile (1999) and The Majestic (2001) and the final one, The Mist (2007) I liked a lot, but didn’t quite love because its has too much horror aspects in it. He is an amazing director and I wish he would have more credits as director/writer because Hollywood needs talent like him.
The musical score by Thomas Newman is excellent and I can never get enough of the cinematographical work by Roger Deakins, the scenes in the quad are filmed superbly. This movie garnered him his first of 11 nominations for a Best Cinematography Oscar and he has yet to win once.
If you want a great feel good movie, you can’t go wrong with this one!
I have seen this so many times, and I never get bored of it!
Bottom Line – Not much to add about this amazing movie. Freeman and Robbins are excellent together and we can really believe their growing bond over the course of the movie. Darabont did an unbelievable job adapting and directing this movie. Unfortunately, he has only been recognized for it in retrospect. Excellent cinematography and music help make this movie feel so real. Hard to believe that it was originally written by King himself. Highly Highly Recommended!
MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Stephen King sold the film rights for his novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” for $5,000. He never cashed the check. Years after Shawshank came out, the author got the check framed and mailed it back to the director Frank Darabont with a note inscribed: “In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.” (From IMDB)
Rating – Oscar Worthy (no change from original review)
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