Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton
Director: Frank Darabont
Running Time: 142 mins
The Shawshank Redemption is an American film about the story of a man who is sentenced to life in a brutal New England prison, and forms an eternally unbreakable bond with a fellow inmate that give his time there meaning and direction.
There is a reason that this is so often lauded as one of the greatest films of all time, and that’s because it’s one of the greatest stories ever told. I know it was adapted from a Stephen King book, but this incredible story has become famed because of this film, and that’s because it is such a well put-together film, with stunning acting, great cinematography and directing, and a simply fantastically written adapted screenplay.
I’ll start with the main component that makes this such an amazing film to watch: the story. In effect, it’s a very simple plot on the surface, following the friendship of two prisoners over the years and the adversity that they often face from their surroundings.
However, if you go in a little deeper, you start to see the way in which the main characters deal with much more complex emotions and themes, like hope, liberty and integrity, and that’s where the real feeling and impact of this film comes from, as as you become so connected with Andy Dufresne and Red, you become hugely intrigued in their discussions and escapades throughout the years.
What’s more is that the story is well-paced and totally unpredictable. It doesn’t have the atmosphere of a thriller or a suspense story, due to its patient pace, but it is in effect, particularly in the latter stages, an unpredictable thriller, and that only further cements your interest that’s been there from the start, while it also adds a great deal of excitement to the story as a whole.
Anyway, away from the story, the performances are fantastic. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are immensely likeable, convincing and enigmatic as the two main characters, while Bob Gunton and Clancy Brown do an excellent job as the nasty villains that ramp up the stakes in this story.
Also, there’s some brilliant cinematography in this film. It’s a prison film, and in the early stages, you really feel the brutality of the prison lifestyle through the cinematography, which is consistently dark and harsh. After that, the atmosphere does feel somewhat romanticised, and the camera work reflects that, with the film looking a whole lot lighter, and a whole lot more optimistic.
So, overall, this gets a 9.3, mainly because of its stunning story, but also because of fantastic performances, great cinematography and intriguing themes.