Movie Reviews,  Reviews

The Shawshank Redemption – There is Hope!

Runtime2h 22m
RatingR (Violence, Profanity, Sexuality)

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies! Quarantine brought me here. When you feel there is no hope that life will get any better, try watching ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. There is always Hope!

Shawshank is a Metaphor!

The Shawshank Redemption is based on the Stephen King novel ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption’. Set in 1940s, the movie tells the story of a banker, Andy Dufrense (Tim Robbins) who is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in Shawshank prison for the murders of his wife and her lover. Andy claims innocence. The movie shows how Andy learns to get by in the harsh confines of the prison.

The Shawshank Redemption is not just another prison drama, rather it just has a prison as its setting. The prison here is a metaphor. It can be anything that keep us trapped from a state of mind to a terrible situation. One of the underlying theme of the movie is institutionalization wherein prisoners become so dependent on prison routine that life in the real world becomes an illusion or a threat.

The Shawshank Redemption explores this through the character Brooks (James Whitmore). He has been in the prison for 50 years and shows how institutionalized one can be. The actual prison he is staying in becomes his home and when he is released, the outside world and place he wanted to go to all those years, becomes the prison. Its hauntingly narrated by Red (Morgan Freeman) as when you first arrive in prison, you hate the place and then you get used to it and eventually you depend on it. They send you here for life and that’s exactly what they take – The part that counts anyway!

A Timeless Feel-Good Classic

Andy comes to Shawshank as the innocent outsider and refuses to give up hope. He comes as a breath of fresh air offering moments of freedom and joy to his pessimistic fellow inmates. An unlikely friendship develops between the innocent Andy and the guilty Red. While the title ‘Redemption’ might initially seem for Andy, it is Red who needs to be redeemed. Red, like Brooks is institutionalized and we see the transformation in him through the three parole hearings spanning 30 years.

Contrary to the first two parole hearings where he did not mention about his crime or why he was there, Red, in his last hearing reveals his truest emotion. The 20 years of friendship with Andy made Red realise that he deserved to be in prison, but Andy did not. Yet, Andy never gave up hope and Red saw how it was for an innocent man to conduct himself with dignity under the most hopeless circumstances. From their friendship, Red attains self-realization, acceptance of his wrong doings and finally achieves his redemption. Red’s closing line echoes his feeling – “That kid’s long gone and this old man is all that’s left. I got to live with that”.

Rated #1 in IMDB

The Shawshank Redemption holds the number 1 spot in the top 250 movies of all time in IMDB. There are several debates on how this even topped ‘The Godfather’ and many other classics. I guess it’s because of its simplicity, easily relatable story and screenplay of themes such as hope and enduring friendship. There is no complex narrative or complicated storyline, rather a straightforward life inspiring tale full of good quotes! The writing and cinematography is top notch aided by an excellent background score. The pacing of the movie is perfect with two powerhouse performances from Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. The supporting roles from Brooks to the Warden have all done a great job. The voiceover narration from Morgan Freeman lends an emotional connect to the entire proceedings.

The place ‘Zihuatanejo’ that Andy mentions to Red in The Shawshank Redemption is an escape or dream point that every individual can relate to. Like the prison being a metaphor keeping us trapped in a state of mind or a situation, Zihuatanejo becomes our freedom – ‘Get busy Living or Get busy Dying’.


The Shawshank Redemption is a cinematic experience of friendship, hope and human spirit that helps one withstand adverse situations. Must Watch!

The Shawshank Redemption is available on Amazon Prime.

Image Source: IMDB

Have you read my review on the horror movie “The Empty Man” Read here

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