‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is a new classic

Joy. Pain. Fear. Hope. Love. Loyalty. These words describe the meaning of a true friend. The only friends worth keeping are those who watch you fail and never ask for gifts when you succeed. Like roots of a tree, friends keep you grounded.

“The Shawshank Redemption” (based on Stephen King’s short story “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”) is the one of the few times Hollywood made a movie about real friendship.

The two characters, Red (Morgan Freeman) and Andy (Tim Robbins), aren’t teamed up to score women, party or fight the bad guys. The great Oscar winners Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) and Robbins (“Mystic River”) have an on-screen relationship that pulls us into the story and releases us into the world with a better understanding of humanity.

After being found guilty of the murder of his wife and her lover, Andy is sent to Shawshank Prison. Robbins said it “was the best script I’ve ever read.”

In prison, Andy befriends Red (Freeman said “it was the one time I told my agent, ‘I can only do this movie if Tim Robbins does’”). It was this mutual respect that created a beautiful portrayal of friendship for the big screen. Andy tries to adapt to prison life and goes on an unforgettable journey to find hope with Red inside the prison walls.

When “The Shawshank Redemption” was released it was not widely accepted. This movie entered a class of films (“Citizen Kane and “It’s a Wonderful Life”) that were panned by critics, didn’t do good at the box office and received multiple Oscar nominations (with no big wins). It found its audience on VHS, television and DVDs (remember those?).

The most beautiful aspect of this film (aside from the writing) is the cinematography. Its use of colors, filters and shots that evoke deep emotions make it seem like you’re viewing a painter’s work. The legendary Roger Deakins (“No Country for Old Men”) gives us one of the best shots in cinema history but I don’t want to spoil it.

“The Shawshank Redemption,” like a friendship, has ups and downs, but in the end shows us some things never change. I watched this film four times on the big screen. At the time, I was only 15. I’m now 32 and this makes my heart fill up with love for the friends I have. This work of art captured lightning in a bottle and will still touch people’s hearts in 100 years.

“The Shawshank Redemption” tells us that even in the darkest moments,  any of us can find “hope.” Like the films tagline says, “Fear can keep you prisoner, hope will set you free.” This movie can be summed up in a few words, great, epic, timeless and truthful. Go to the library and check it out.


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