87. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Date First Watched: 2005
Date Last Watched: 18/01/2006
# Viewings: 3

I always thought the film was a bit too Hollywood, but it had enough other strengths that overcame the other stuff. This time, I found those aspects annoyed me a bit, though it was still a good enough movie.

It’s too crisp and clean and nice and ‘Hollywood’ which prevents it from having any real depth and emotional resonance. In the book (which I haven’t read), apparently Red purposely killed his wife and accidentally killed his daughter and another person; this is glossed over in the film and Red (and the other ‘good’ prisoners) are just presented as good old every day folk. We know Red’s in there for murder, but we’re not told the details, allowing the audience to assume that a nice guy like Red must’ve done it for a reason (or is innocent). Rapes and bashings are also implied, but not shown; because if we were actually shown that kind of violence, we’d be too disgusted and distracted. The dialogue is all too convenient and melodramatic. This gives all the characters – and therefore, the overall film – an artificial feel.

At the same time, this is all quite clearly done in order to focus on Andy’s story. It’s not about the harshness of prison or the complexities of other characters. This somewhat works but also detracts as mentioned in the previous paragraph.

What makes the film work is good pacing, an interesting story and an oddly endearing performance from Tim Robbins. Red’s narration is cheesy, but the way the story is told like a ‘mystery’ is quite effective – even if it’s obvious. It’s entertaining, which is the most important thing, but nothing more than that.


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