‘The Shawshank Redemption’ (Film)

the shawshank redemption

‘THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Fear Can Hold You Prisoner. Hope Can Set You Free

This is one of Sarah Sutton’s (Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’) favourite films!

‘The Shawshank Redemption’ was a film recommended to me by who I dedicate this review to. This is a prison film starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. I’ve now seen this film twice in 2014 and I agree it’s one of the best films ever made in the 1990s. It comes highly recommended in my opinion.

NB. This is a 15-rated film, as it’s suitable for persons of 15 years and over. It contains adult themes; a few sex references; brutal violence and strong language.

I’m glad I’ve been able to see this film. I must admit it took me a while to get round to watching it. This was because I was reluctant of the subject matter depicting the harsh realities of prison life. It is pretty brutal in places, especially at the beginning when Andy Dufresne gets locked away into prison.

But after discussing with friends at work and home about the film, I eventually got round to watching it. I certainly enjoyed watching this film as I found it deeply moving and its messages of hope, freedom, salvation and the human spirit resonate in this. So what’s the movie about then?

The film is about a young banker called Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), who gets wrongly accused for the murders of his wife and lover. Found guilty, Andy is sentenced for life and is locked at maximum security Shawshank State Prison. In prison, Andy has to overcome his fears and find a reason to live.

Andy makes friends with Red (Morgan Freeman), one of the inmates at the prison as well as finding favour with the warden and prison guards. But his growing acceptance of prison life hides his determination to be free. Andy spends 19 years of his life in prison. Will he find a way to escape?

This film is based on the short novella story by author Stephen King originally called ‘Rita Haywood and the Shawshank Redemption’. I’m not an expert on Stephen King and watching this film has opened my eyes to knowing him and how his story is interpreted by writer/director Frank Darabont.

As I watched this film, I wondered where it was going to go and how the story would get resolved. There were moments where I thought the film wasn’t going anywhere and it was going to be depressing all the way through. But there’s a clever plot twist at the film’s end that I did not expect.

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I know how silly this sounds, but after watching this film I was struck by how Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman looked so young. I’d seen both these actors before in other films, and it never occurred to me that they would look so young in this. Of course this film is one of their earlier works.

Tim Robbins stars as Andy Dufresne. I’ve seen Tim Robbins before in ‘War Of The Worlds’ with Tom Cruise. I found it interesting to watch Tim in one of his earlier films and it’s amazing to think how far he’s come since doing that film as he’s become a very talented actor, screenwriter, director, etc.

Andy goes through the hardship of his first two years in prison and manages to form a real friendship with Red. I really like how the friendship between Andy and Red develops and you really hope Andy will get out of prison at the end of the film. Andy keeps looking for hope and finds a reason to live.

Morgan Freeman also stars as Red. He’s a very well-known actor these days, as he was recently in the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale ‘Batman’ films called ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy’. It’s surprising to find that this is one of his earliest films and he was nominated an Academy Award for Best Actor in this.

Red has been in prison long before Andy. He’s an African-American male who narrates the story. Red is like a ‘prison-spiv’ as he gets anything from cigarettes to chocolates. Red is convicted of murder and doesn’t see the ‘hope’ that Andy sees. But Red forms a friendship with Andy that is very moving.

The guest cast also includes Bob Gunton as Warden Samuel Norton in charge of Shawshank prison. He believes in two things – discipline and the Bible. He finds favour with Andy during the course of the film. There’s a shocking twist to Norton, as his devout Christian manner isn’t as it appears to be.

There’s also William Sadler as Heywood. Heywood is an in-mate at Shawshank Prison and is one of Red’s gang. Although seeming like a bully at first, he does come across as a likeable character later on in the film. He comes to like Andy as well and supports to help Andy whenever he’s in trouble.

There’s also Clancy Brown as Captain Byron Hadley, chief of the prison guards. Hadley is somebody you’d really want to hate as he’s a sadistic and brutal captain of the guards and likes to beat the in-mates up; treat them unfairly and keeping them in line. I’m sure Clancy Brown is a nice person really.

There’s also James Whitmore as Brooks, an elderly in-mate at Shawshank Prison. Brooks has been in prison all his life and is the prison librarian who Andy gets to work with in the prison. He soon serves his time and is let out of prison. There’s a very upsetting scene on how he copes outside of prison.

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There’s also Gil Bellows as Tommy Williams, a young man who gets convicted of a crime and is sent to Shawshank Prison in the 1950s when Andy and Red meet him. Tommy may know something about the truth of Andy’s innocence and the murder crime he didn’t commit. Will he live to tell it?

There’s also Mark Rolston as Bogs, the leader of ‘The Sisters’ group who bully and beat up Andy before he in turn gets beaten by Captain Hadley. He is soon sent off to another prison afterwards.

The prison setting is very gothic and atmospheric. It’s pretty bleak, unsettling and depressing when Andy first comes to Shawshank and you really feel for him when he’s struggling to cope with adapting to prison life at first. The film’s lighting for the setting is very impressive when watching it.

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The DVD special features are as follows. There’s a making-of documentary called ‘The Redeeming Feature’ with cast and crew interviews including Tim Robbins; Morgan Freeman; director/writer Frank Darabont; etc. There are also interviews with former in-mates and members of the Church.

There are also more cast interviews with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman made in 1993/4 to promote the film’s release and there is also a theatrical trailer of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’.

I’m grateful to Sarah Sutton who I dedicate this review to for recommending ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ to me. I’m surprised this film didn’t become a big success when it came out in the cinemas. ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is a deeply moving film filled with messages of hope in the face of despair.

It’s a pretty uplifting film about salvation in various forms and it took me by surprise on how the film would be resolved. The plot’s twist is very clever and I like Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman’s performances as Andy and Red. I highly recommend this film! You won’t be disappointed with this!

‘The Shawshank Redemption’ rating – 9/10


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‘THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION’ (2015) (THEATRE)

Originally written on the 29th of November 2015.

I went to see ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ at the New Theatre in Cardiff. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this! It was an amazing experience to see this performed on stage after I’d seen the film twice and the performances of the cast and the production values are extremely good.

‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is based on the film starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman as well as on the short novella by Stephen King called ‘Rita Heywood and the Shawshank Redemption’ (in the anthology book ‘Different Seasons’).

This amazing film was adapted into theatre by Dave Johns and Owen O’Neill, who have worked together in the theatre on a version of ‘Twelve Angry Men’ in 2003. It was directed by David Esbjornson and stars Ian Kelsey as Andy Dufresne and Patrick Robinson as Red Redding.

The story of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is about Andy, a banker who is wrongly accused for the double murder of his wife and lover. Sentenced for life at Shawshank maximum security prison, Andy makes friends with prison spiv Red and keeps on looking for hope to find a reason to live…

The performances of Ian Kelsey and Patrick Robinson as Andy and Red are spell-bounding and I was amazed at how fast everything went with so much going on in two acts and an interval in-between. The story was very moving in the film and it was equally moving to see when watching it on stage.

I very much liked the incidental music featured in the stage production of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. As the story spanned over 20 years of Andy’s life in prison from the 1940s and 50s, this music included songs like ‘Somewhere Beyond The Sea’ and ‘Return To Sender’ which I liked.

‘The Shawshank Redemption’ film was recommended to me by Sarah Sutton who plays Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’. I’m very grateful that I’ve now seen both the film and the stage production of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ in the space of two years. It was an amazing experience and one I’ll never forget.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my review on the stage version of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’.


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