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What to Watch: The Shawshank Redemption
“The Shawshank Redemption” is one of the greatest films of its time (Courtesy of

The new school year has just begun and that means back to prison, at least in my opinion. Amidst the new faces, new classes and the same insanely crowded halls lies the shared feelings of despair and loss.

We feel trapped and feel the loss of our soon-to-be-forgotten freedom. But for some, a growing number of some, those feelings of despair and loss are all too real.

It is hard, but imagine living the rest of your days in the confines of a prison. Unable to leave. Unable to fully live, all while you are labeled a threat to society. For Andy DuFresne, played immaculately by Tim Robbins, the loss of a promising life is all but a harsh reality,

Andy DuFresne was a hotshot banker in Portland, Maine. All seemed perfect in his little world, but that all fell apart when he learned of his wife’s infidelity. Enraged by this, Andy knocked back some bourbon and bought a .38 snub revolver and ammo with the intent to both kill his wife and her partner.

In court, Andy was charged with the murders but he claimed he did otherwise. To little avail, he was sentenced to two life sentences.

Being called a “cold and remorseless man” by the judge and having his entire life destroyed left Andy in utter shock. Before long he arrived at the fictional Shawshank State Penitentiary.

“The Shawshank Redemption” is based on the novella written by Stephen King, although it is not of the usual horror genre he is so famously known for. To date, alongside “Stand By Me,” “Shawshank” is one of the most popular and well received of all of his film adapted novels and novellas.

That aside, “Shawshank” is an amazing film. It is, without a doubt, a classic. Directed by Frank Darabont and released in the early fall of 1994, it is impossible to not have seen this film in the almost 22 years it has been around. With a perfect cast including legendary actor Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins, Clancy Brown, Bob Gunton and James Whitmore, “Shawshank” is the apex of excellent films.

Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding, acted perfectly by the famous Morgan Freeman, has served 20 years of his life sentence. Guilty of murder, Red believes he is fully rehabilitated; no longer a threat to society. A changed man. Despite his honesty and candor, he is rejected for parole and damned to stay longer in Shawshank.

The day he is rejected for parole is the day Andy Dufresne arrived at Shawshank. It was the spring of 1947, the very beginning of his consecutive life sentences.

During his tenure at Shawshank, Andy meets and befriends a wide variety of lifelike characters who all play pivotal roles in his new life. Heywood, played by William Sadler, is a friend of Red’s and quickly becomes friends with Andy. Brooks Hatlen, played by James Whitmore, is the soft-spoken old timer at Shawshank.

On the other side are the more sadistic characters. Warden Samuel Norton, played by Bob Gunton, is as crooked as a law official could be. Finally, there is the sadist Captain Byron Hadley, played amazingly by Clancy Brown.

With all new arrivals at Shawshank, Red and his friends put bets of cigarettes on people who they think will not make it through the first night. Red puts his bet on Andy, not thinking much of him at first glance.

What “Shawshank” does best is progressing its characters. Time passes and they look older, harbor different ideals and become closer with each other. The most notable aspect of the film is the relationship between Andy and Red.

They quickly become close friends and share the meaning of life and insights on their perspectives on hope, or the severe lack thereof. We see both Andy and Red change, morphing the narrative and crafting a world for themselves.

"The Shawshank Redemption" astounds (Courtesy of
“The Shawshank Redemption” astounds viewers (Courtesy of

The film is brilliant and the acting is the best you will ever see. In fact, the entire film feels real. It feels as if you were allowed to view the lives of these broken men. That sentiment is both spectacular and utterly chilling.

As the film goes on, central plot points include the idea of becoming institutionalized, fear, redemption, and the elusive concept of hope. All of these factors and more build up to one of the most climactic endings in film history.

In conclusion, “Shawshank” is the perfect film. From the meaningful conversations, the ideas of fear, and the importance of hope, this film proves to be one-of-a-kind as it remains one of the most culturally important films in history.

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