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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