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The Shawshank Redemption - Movie Review

To continue my series of film-reviews-whilst-on-a-plane, here’s the latest installment. You can catch the first at Extreme Job - A Movie Review.

The Shawshank Redemption

United States (1994)

9.3 on IMDB

Ah, the Shawshank Redemption. Despite being such an old movie, I have never watched it until now. I had always wanted to, but never had the time. I guess I was fascinated with the stupidly high IMDB score of 9.3. You just don’t see a score that high very often but with a quick glance at the top 10, they’re mostly old movies. I should work my way through that list, one day! Oh yes, and it’s the highest rated movie ever on IMDB. So let’s see what the fuss is all about.

Firstly, China Airlines, please get a new VCR. This was 142 minutes of absolutely atrocious video quality, as if it was copied too many times from one VHS tape to another. Or maybe it was from a rental tape which had done the rounds for a few decades and then left on a plane as it’s retirement plan couldn’t afford anything better. I can’t remember if it had a watermark, but if it did, good luck to you if you were going to use this copy to pirate the movie.

There was, however, a notice to say the movie had been edited for the airline, but there’s never any detail as to why or what scenes. So I guess I’ll have to watch it again and see if I can tell if anything was changed?

I can see why it gets such a high rating on IMDB, despite being filmed almost exclusively in the Shawshank correctional facility, it first appears to be considerably sparsely presented yet somehow time really flies and the decades just roll on past. Something that is probably very far beyond reality on the inside! It’s certainly not a sparse movie as far as dialogue goes and Morgan Freeman can narrate any movie as far as I’m concerned.

I’m sure you all know the storyline: wrongfully accused of murdering his wife, banker Andy is incarcerated in gaol for many decades where he schemes an elaborate escape plan combined with inventing a person under the guise of committing fraud in a money laundering scam for the officers in charge. He manages to work out what happens (by luck) but as luck would have it, the corrupt officers soon put an end to his one and only chance of walking out clean.

I’m going to talk spoilers because I’m pretty sure most other people have seen this movie. The pretty girl poster (aka Rita Hayworth) twist was excellent and I chuckled when it was finally revealed that the tunnel that Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) had painstakingly dug over a matter of years. It’s probably surprising I knew so little about this film, but imagine hearing the hype in 1994 and going to see it for the first time. That was a bit like my experience.

The trade of goods via Red (played by Morgan Freeman) was fascinating to see unfold in the way he could organise (pretty much) any item, given a price. I can imagine even basic items in a prison can attract quite a price, given someone is desperate enough.

I’ve read that people didn’t warm to Andy’s character but I quite liked him: reserved, conscientious and not afraid to rebel when the message is going to be heard (literally over a loudspeaker) - a scene I particularly enjoyed because of the use of the turntable. He also got on the side of the officials for his own eventual benefit, which was paramount to his escape plan.

There is a happy ending to the movie of course, with Red and Andy finally meeting up after Red serves up 40 years in prison, which I was quite surprised to see as the ending. I was completely expecting a curve ball to be thrown at the end and some one dies, or they don’t meet up for whatever reason. You know, like one of those movies where even the underdog isn’t successful.

I’d totally watch this again, in better quality, with all scenes intact.

5 stars