Okay Juicers, so I am doing this 30 day Film Challenge that should really give my thoughts and emotions an interesting time during the next month of quarantine. We have made it to the final day of our challenge and what a journey it has been. This has made me think hard about what different movies can bring you and I loved it. What better way to finish this off than with the question what movie has my favorite ending. The only answer for me is arguably the greatest movie of all time and that is The Shawshank Redemption.
*If you haven’t seen Shawshank what are you even doing?
Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover and is sentenced to a tough prison. However, only Andy knows he didn’t commit the crimes. While there, he forms a friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman), experiences brutality of prison life, adapts, helps the warden, etc., all in 19 years.
“Hope is a dangerous thing, Hope can drive a man insane.”
When you talk about Shawshank you are talking about one of the standard bearers of cinema. A movie that we compare all movies to because of its greatness. That reputation has been built over a long time of this movie just being on, and being impossible to turn off. Once Shawshank is on the screen your life is on hold for however long the rest of the movie is. Afterwards you are always emotionally drained because of the spectacle you just watched.
Adapted from a Stephen King short story, and Directed by Frank Darabont, this movie was overshadowed when it came out by behemoths like Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, and The Lion King. However, when you watch this story about Perseverance, Friendship, and of course Hope you start to understand more and more why it endures. The story itself is relatively basic on the surface, a man is wrongly accused of murdering his wife and has to go to prison for the rest of his life. But what Shawshank does well is it makes you fall in love with every aspect of the prison. Except the rapists of course. Throughout the 19 years at Shawshank we see Andy make numerous friends, create the biggest prison library in the northeast, and become basically the accountant for all the staff in the prison. He learns how to live in this world even though he never could have imagined he would be in it. All the while clinging to that dangerous word of Hope.
Everything about the way this story is told is masterful. Darabont’s direction and pacing, to the G.O.A.T. Roger Deakins Cinematography, and how can we forget the ironically unforgettable score done by Thomas Newman (Deakins and Newman also did 1917 together). As a viewer you just feel so invested in everyone in this world and you honestly feel like they are your buddies because you just like them so much. That when something like Brooks’ death happens you are so shocked and saddened because you have come to love him so much.
When they final 25 minutes hit though there really is nothing like it in movies. That first time you see the rock go through the poster and realize what is happening, it is a shocking experience. And then that Morgan Freeman narration continues and man it is just everything you want it to be and more. And it only works because of the performances from Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. They are incredible together and both are giving performances of a lifetime. Freeman as he is the wise but always growing veteran, and Robbins who comes in as the newbie but leaves in Reds words as the hardest screw to ever walk through Shawshank Prison.
*A couple other tidbits
- Bob Gunton who plays the warden is truly terrifying and a fantastically memorable villain.
- Andy Dufrense they originally wanted Tom Hanks but he had already signed up for Forrest Gump.
- The last word of the movie of course is Hope.
Listen I know its a hot take to say Shawshank is a masterpiece, but it is! It just draws you in and takes you on a journey through a prison, but really a man’s life in that prison. But it shows why hope might not always be dangerous, but some times it can be the best of things in our lives.
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