Can Hollywood, usually creating things for entertainment purposes only, create art? To create something of this nature, a director must approach it in a most meticulous manner, due to the delicacy of the process. Such a daunting task requires an extremely capable artist with an u… read morendeniable managerial capacity and an acutely developed awareness of each element of art in their films, the most prominent; music, visuals, script, and acting. These elements, each equally important, must succeed independently, yet still form a harmonious union, because this mixture determines the fate of the artist’s opus. Though already well known amongst his colleagues for his notable skills at writing and directing, Frank Darabont emerges with his feature film directorial debut, The Shawshank Redemption. Proving himself already a master of the craft, Darabont managed to create one of the most recognizable independent releases in the history of Hollywood. The Shawshank Redemption defines a genre, defies the odds, compels the emotions, and brings an era of artistically influential films back to Hollywood.

The story begins with the trial of a young banker, Andy Dufrense, victimized by circumstantial evidence, resulting in a conviction for the murder of his wife and her lover. After a quick conviction, Andy finds himself serving a life sentence at Shawshank prison, with no hope of parole. He exists in this prison only in appearance, keeping his mind free from the drab walls around him. His ability to do this results in the gaining of respect from his fellow inmates, but most of all from Ellis Redding. Ellis, commonly referred to as Red, finds gainful use of his entrepreneurial spirit within the drab walls of Shawshank by dealing in contraband and commodities rare to the confines of prison. Andy’s demeanor and undeniable sense of hope causes Red to take a deeper look at himself, and the world around him. Andy proves to Red and the other inmates that in the conventional walls of Shawshank prison convention will find no home in his lifestyle.

By creating the film’s firm foundation, the meticulously chiseled screenplay paved the way for this film’s success. Frank Darabont outdoes himself with the phenomenal adaptation of Stephen King’s equally noteworthy novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. In this novella, King demonstrates that he can break free from the genre he dominates and still create a marvelous piece of modern literature. Though the film mirrors the novella in many ways, Darabont illustrates a focused objective of improving upon the areas where the novella came up short, resulting in one of the best book to film transitions ever.

While maintaining some of the poetic and moving dialogue of the novella, Darabont also proves that a film’s score can generate a great deal of emotional response from its audience, as dialogue does. He employs the cunning Thomas Newman, son of the legendary Hollywood composer, Alfred Newman. Darabont shows recognition for the film’s needs by employing Newman, who makes the gentle piano chords whisper softly to the viewer, as if a part of the scripted dialogue. Newman lends himself to individualism and tends to drive more towards the unique in the realm of score composition. His effort in Shawshank did not go unnoticed, as his score received an Oscar nomination in 1995. While unique and independent, Newman’s score never once intrudes on your concentration or distracts from the film.

With work from vast array of talented scene designers, costume designers, composers, cinematographers, and various other Hollywood artists, the cast of The Shawshank Redemption had a strong foundation to work with. The marvelous cast of this film will dazzle you with some of the most convincing performances you will witness in a film. While both Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman shine as Andy and Red, respectively, the true spectacle of acting lies within the plethora of amazing supporting actors who easily disappear into their roles. Most noticeable of these, the veteran film star James Whitmore, who portrays the elderly Brooks Hatlen. Brooks, a man incarcerated for an unmentioned crime for so long that he finds himself attached to the Shawshank and the daily life he has lead. Each of these actors show a true dedication to their art, and a focused purpose in their motivations, creating a convincing setting that never once caters to anything unbelievable.

With all of the aesthetic touches and attention to cinematic detail, the most beautiful part of the film lies within its thematic material, such as its focus on the human desires for the most abstract concepts, like hope and freedom. These themes, which concern things the human spirit undoubtedly yearns for, seem so intricately woven into the plot that it easily draws its audience in to its story. Though full of hardened criminals, your heart will go out to these men as they display the most basic of human emotions, and deliver some of the most quotable lines in a film to date. Like a great novel, this film manages to succeed at greater things than simply entertaining an audience. Darabont tells his story most masterfully, illustrating principles and inspiring his audience to think. He leaves us a poignant film with a powerful message of hope, and redemption, something we all seek.

This film manages to redeem Hollywood in the eyes of people who feared it long lost in a dark sea of clich├ęs and predictability. Darabont shows us that artists still work in the Hollywood studios and production facilities. These artists show their capability to produce art; real art that inspires you to look at the deeper aspects of life and the world around you. The Shawshank Redemption delivers much-needed breath of fresh air for anyone who realizes the capability of film. It proves that masters of the craft still live on this earth, and still bless us with timeless masterpieces that we will never forget.

I’d put off seeing this movie for too long. I’m not a fan of Tim Robbins, but he wasn’t bad here. Classic Morgan Freeman, not nearly as good as his ‘Million Dollar Baby’, but still very good. The best performances, though, came from Bob Gunton, the Shawshank Prison Warden, and… read more James Whitmore, a kind inmate serving for the last 50 years. His star scene comes at the end of his character’s screentime. Frank Darabont’s Oscar-worthy adapted screenplay gives an accurate portrayal of being a newbie in prison and what it does to a man, both physically and mentally, over long spans of time. After a certain amount of time inside, as stated by Freeman, you hate jail at first, then you get used to it, and then, after a long time, it becomes the only thing you know. After that long of a time, you lose touch with the outside world and prison life becomes routine, your new life, and some people just can’t deal with the change after that point. The mentality of the prisoners is not stereotypically bullying, but is mean, especially to newcomers, as seen in the beginning. Robbins soon warms up to them, especially after managing to get Freeman and his friends, including Bill Sadler, cold beers. Robbins and Freeman begin a close friendship, Freeman getting Robbins what he wants from the outside and Robbins getting Freeman and his gang special privileges from Gunton and his over-aggressive top guard, Clancy Brown. Later on, around the 1960’s, (Robbins was sentenced in 1947) Gil Bellows enters the prison and quickly, because of his rash, punky personality, becomes one of the gang. Bellows gives a good-enough-to-be-convincing performance, having information of high value to Robbins. Cinematography expert Roger Deakins’ work here is way ahead of his time. The set-art direction beautifully constructs a dark, isolating prison. Darabont at his best. A-

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I’ve never met a person that can tell me exactly what it is about Shawshank Redemption that makes them love it so much. They just love it. I actually believe now that there is no combination words that i can use to describe this movie. So this will be short, simple, and to the po… read moreint.

Tim Robbins encapsulates us. He is what we believe ourselves to be. The innocent who is made guilty. The man with only hope. The undying hope of self-salvation. We hope that if we were in his case we could be Andy Dufresne. We HOPE. Morgan Freeman, with is powerful and mezmarizing voice, has us listen to the story of two men, one being himself (Red) and the other being Andy Dufresne. We listen, and we feel. It’s so hard not to feel while watching these lives change and mold before our eyes. You don’t stop listening or feeling until it’s over, and even then you feel as though the story is still happening, that you must hear it, you must never let it go.

Bob Gunton makes us rage, Morgan Freeman makes us listen, James Whitmore makes us cry, and Tim Robbins makes us hope.

That is what is so powerful about this movie. It’s not that the direction, writing, and acting are all so powerfully brilliant and perfect. No it’s not that, though that does help. It’s the fact that you feel so heavily, and you get so involved in the lives of these men that you invest your time, and your emotion, and your HOPE into their lives.

That’s what’s so amazing about Shawshank Redemption. Though I will tell you the acting (which is superb) the direction (which is tasteful and of epic proportion) and writing (which stuns you and makes you feel) all help the movie along quite a bit.

What is there to say about The Shawshank Redemption? Clearly there is a reason for it’s widespread popularity, and thankfully that praise is warranted. While far from the best film I’ve ever seen (it currently holds the #1 spot on IMDB), I can’t argue against it being a great… read more film. In particular, the performances by Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are inspiring enough to power the film through it’s slower passages. The cinematography has been praised for good reason as well, a lot of thought was obviously put into every shot to convey a certain feeling or message. Although I found the story arc to be somewhat predictable, the art of storytelling is the real star here, guiding us through themes that are masterfully simple on the surface, but have a lot going on underneath for you to think about later on. Really the only thing that held this film back for me is it’s reliance on some rather cliche (at least at this point in time) plot developments amidst it’s middle act. Being objective though, it’s hard to tell whether that is the fault of the way it was crafted, or just the result of the film being so broad in it’s scope. Either way, it stands the test of time as a film very much worth viewing. Maybe we have been looking at Shawshank all wrong. Maybe it’s not so amazing because of how many people think it’s great, maybe it’s because of how few people there are that don’t. It certainly has a message that everyone can appreciate.

In 1947, a banker named Andrew “Andy” Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, based on strong circumstantial evidence. He is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at Shawshank State Penitentiary in Maine, run by Warden Samuel Norton (Bob Gunton). Andy is quickly befriended by Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), a fellow inmate serving a life sentence who has recently failed to gain parole. Andy finds Red has connections on the outside who can acquire contraband for the inmates. He first asks Red for a rock hammer, explaining that he wants to use it to maintain his rock collection hobby, which he uses to fashion a home-made chess set. He later asks Red for a full-size poster of Rita Hayworth for his wall, replacing the poster over the years with ones of Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch.

While doing manual labor, Andy overhears Captain of the Guards Byron Hadley (Clancy Brown) complain about having to pay taxes on a forthcoming inheritance. After explaining to Hadley how to circumvent the taxes legally, Andy’s financial advice is soon sought by other guards at Shawshank and nearby prisons. Because of this, Andy is given a space to work on their financial matters alongside elderly inmate Brooks Hatlen (James Whitmore). Hadley delivers a brutal beating to inmate Bogs (Mark Rolston), leader of “The Sisters,” after his gang’s sexual assault puts Andy in the infirmary; Bogs is paralyzed, and the remaining Sisters leave Andy alone. Andy uses his goodwill with the guards to expand the prison library. When one donation to the library provides him with the opera The Marriage of Figaro, he plays it over the public address system for all the inmates to hear, well-aware of the punishment of solitary confinement he will receive for the brief moment of bliss.

Warden Norton eventually creates a scheme to use prison labor for public works, undercutting the cost of skilled labor and receiving kickbacks for it. Norton has Andy launder the money under the false identity of Randall Stevens, in exchange for allowing Andy to keep his private cell and to continue maintaining the library. Meanwhile, Brooks, freed on parole, is unable to adjust to the outside world, and hangs himself; Andy dedicates the expanded library to him.

In 1965, Tommy Williams (Gil Bellows) is incarcerated on robbery charges. He is brought into Andy and Red’s circle of friends, and Andy assists him in getting his GED. Upon learning of the crime of which Andy was convicted, Tommy reveals that one of his fellow inmates at another prison, Elmo Blatch (Bill Bolender), had claimed to have committed a nearly identical murder – this might prove that Andy, who had always maintained his innocence, was indeed not guily. Norton, fearing the end of the flow of money that Andy was looking after for him, and fearing that Andy might tell of his (Norton’s) corruption if released, puts Andy into solitary confinement and has Tommy killed by Hadley, claiming he was an escapee.

Shortly after he returns to his regular cell block, Andy tells Red of his dream of living in Zihuatanejo, a Mexican-Pacific coastal town, and instructs Red, should he ever be freed, to visit a specific hayfield near Buxton to find something Andy had left there. The next day at roll call, Andy’s cell is found empty. Norton, in anger, throws one of Andy’s rocks at the poster of Raquel Welch; to everyone’s astonishment, the rock tears through the poster, revealing a tunnel that Andy had dug with the rock hammer over the last two decades. A flashback shows that Andy, the night before, had switched the ledger book he had kept for Norton with his prison-issue Bible. Taking the ledger, his chess set and one of the warden’s suits, he had made his escape through the tunnel and a narrow sewage drain during a thunderstorm. At the same time that Norton discovered Andy’s escape, Andy used the identity of Randall Stevens to withdraw most of Norton’s money from several banks, then sent evidence of Norton’s corruption to a local newspaper. On the day the story runs, the police converge on the prison; Hadley is arrested while Norton commits suicide.

When Red finally receives parole after serving 40 years, he finds himself living in the same apartment in which Brooks committed suicide, and working at the same grocery store. Red decides to follow Andy’s advice and visits Buxton. In the hayfield specified by Andy, he finds a cache of money and a note left by Andy, reminding him of Zihuatanejo. Red violates his parole and travels to Mexico, where he happily reunites with Andy on the beach.