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Film Friday: The Shawshank Redemption

Keeping in the flow of our last throwback film review for Rocky, this week's Film Friday is going to spotlight one of the most critically acclaimed films: The Shawshank Redemption. Often when I think of inspirational films, one that comes up the most is Shawshank. With its tale of friendship, hope, and redemption, the film resonates deeply with audience members alike. I for one can still remember the first time I watched Shawshank when I was younger. Mostly though I remember the admiration that came over me as I realized just how great the film truly is.

Released in 1994 and based on the novella by Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption tells the tale of banker Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) who is sentenced to consecutive life sentences after being convicted for the murder of his wife and her lover. Andy is sent to Shawshank State Penitentiary where he meets and forms a close bond with fellow inmate Ellis “Red” Redding (played by Morgan Freeman) while also attempting to find solace and maintain his decency in his hostile and corrupt new environment.

The main theme that stands out the most in Shawshank is the need for hope. Hope plays such a huge part in this film, as hope is all Andy has in such a terrible and torturous situation. The film explores his unique ways in dealing with prison life as well as the contrast between him and his fellow inmates, especially that of his friend Red. Red, like many people in this world, believes hope to be dangerous, something that can drive one insane. Andy however, in one of the most famous quotes from the movie, proclaims that, “…hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” Hope is what gets Andy through.

Andy's hope and good will changes not only his own life in prison but also the lives of the other inmates as well. Witnessing his personal journey throughout the film is what strikes viewers so powerfully. While many people are not in the same situation as Andy, most people can relate to his search for redemption and with his struggles of maintaining hope in even the bleakest of circumstances. That, I believe, is what makes Shawshank the moving film that it is. It offers consolation and an unexpected hero's story as well as the portrait of a deep friendship between two men that withstands the test of time and hardship.

In addition to the story, the performances in Shawshank are phenomenal, with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman playing such iconic roles that rank high within their respective film careers. The film is also well done especially within its direction and the beautiful Thomas Newman score. With all the elements of the film combined, Shawshank can be noted for its realism and accurate depictions of human character.

Having hope in hopeless situations is a struggle that many people face but it is never a theme so strongly portrayed than as in The Shawshank Redemption. The film provides the inspiration needed to never lose sight of a goal and to never let the circumstances of your life bring you down, no matter how hard it all may get. With strong performances and even better story, Shawshank is a classic film that I recommend to anyone needing that extra push to keep going.

On the Ticket Stub Love meter, I give The Shawshank Redemption 5 out 5 ticket stubs.

[Article originally published 02/10/2017]

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