The Shawshank Redemption Revisited

The  cable channel AMC has run The Shawshank Redemption every night this week. They’ve been going with the headline: Can’t Get Enough Shawshank Redemption. I’ve now watched sections of it over the last few nights. I guess that means that I can’t get enough of this great film either.

This is the 3rd time I’ve written about this film. The first time was on a different website, and the second time was on this website back in October of 2009. I did a combined piece about The Shawshank Redemption, Cool Hand Luke, and Apocalypse Now, and in the nearly two and half years since – not too many folks took the time to read it. So, because of AMC re-running the film again and again this week – during both days and nights – I’m going to post some of those thoughts once again.

I guess it was the script and the calming, soothing voice of Morgan Freeman that make the film so great. Tim Robbins was the central character, the one who clung to hope no matter what else happened to him in those many years of imprisonment. But it wasn’t just Robbins the actor that made the film so memorable – it was the very idea of hope that held the film together.

When you have time off to do what you want, sometimes the days seem to crawl by. But before you know it – you’re past the middle of March. Spring is upon us. A time when hope springs eternal, as they say. With the Daylights savings Time now in use, we have more sunshine, and more time to enjoy our days. When we watch a film that really gets to us, we no longer notice time. It passes, as it always does, but our attention is elsewhere as we are immersed in the events onscreen.

On the other hand, you have nothing but time on your hands if you are in prison. Morgan Freeman, portraying the convict “Red” in The Shawshank Redemption had this memorable line:

“They march you in naked as the day you were born, skin burning and half blind from that delousing shit they throw on you, and when they put you in that cell, when those bars slam home, that’s when you know it’s for real. Old life blown away in the blink of an eye. Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it.”

Idle time may generally lead to activating your imagination. The natural occurrence that follows is an escape into a dream world or fantasy. Tim Robbins, who had the lead in Shawshank as Andy Dufrense, had his own way of dealing with time. He held on to hope. The theme of the film, as stated on the poster is: Fear Can Hold You Prisoner. Hope Can set You Free.

Later Andy tells Red that hope is how he made it through solitary confinement.  But Red says that hope is a dangerous thing, which can drive a man insane. Then again, so is freedom. But even within the walls of Shawshank, Andy and Red had the freedom to become friends.

At the time that their friendship which was based on trust and loyalty began, neither Andy nor Red could have conceived that this friendship would grow and last.

That there would be landmarks like that big elm tree by a stone fence in a field in Buxton. Or that Ft. Hancock, Texas would have meaning to them. Or that some day, in Zihuatenejo, a pretty coastal town in Mexico, would be where they would find their friendship again, and gaze upon the Pacific Ocean together.

Many people have their favorite moments in this film; one might be when Warden Norton poked his hand through the poster of Raquel ‘Fuzzy Britches’ Welch and discovered how Andy had left the prison.

Or maybe you liked it when Norton  blew his brains out.  How about when Andy sat in the chair in that banker’s office about to be handed one of a number of checks that would be cut that day enabling Andy to walk off into the sunshine for the rest of his life.

He doesn’t have to say a word. You can just see it in his face.

Personally I had two scenes that raised the film to the heights for me. The first is when Andy played the duet from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro over the prison’s loudspeaker system.

The second one was as the film heads toward its conclusion, Red has changed his mind about hope, and makes another memorable speech:

“I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) was an exceptional film, and its depiction of how hope saved a few men is truly memorable.


3 thoughts on “The Shawshank Redemption Revisited

  1. The Shawshank Redemption is my favorite movie! My favorite scenes are of Andy standing up out of the muck of sewer water that has spilled into the river, holding his face up, and washing clean in the rain.

    This metaphor illustrates so simply the price of redemption.

    I agree the scene where the warden throws the rock through the poster is satisfying. The sound of the poster ripping as the warden discovers Andy’s tunnel, the look on Red’s face, backing up the moments of waiting, as the guard yells threats on his way to rouse Andy, who is no longer in his cell.

    Your combined piece sounds interesting.

  2. “Nobody gets too much heaven no more
    It’s much harder to come by
    I’m waiting in line
    Nobody gets too much love anymore
    It’s as high as a mountain
    And harder to climb…”

    “Too Much Heaven,”
    by The Bee Gees

    I read your comparitive this morning. I was reminded of the “Too Much Heaven” song, and was inspired to begin a short story around this chasing the apple theme.

    Also, your analysis of how the isolation of prison can spur forward a dream is helpful to me.


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