Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My favorite movie of all time - The Shawshank Redemption

Source: Wikipedia

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 movie directed by Frank Darabont starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. I clearly remember the day I watched this movie. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and all I wanted to do was sit back and enjoy a good movie while devouring a gooey slice of pizza! It was my husband who recommended this one after pointing out that it was number one on the IMDb top 250 movies of all time. When I asked him what it was about, he told me that it was a story set in prison. I frowned and shook my head in disapproval. I thought to myself, "here we go again - another Hollywood drama portraying the gruesome prison scene". He then told me that it was based on a Stephen King novel which actually made me protest out loud! Don’t get me wrong, I think King is an extraordinary writer but horror is a genre in any form of print and media that I absolutely detest. I had already made up my mind that this movie would be cringe-worthy and repulsive…..a premature and unfair assumption I have to admit.

It turned out that I could not have been more wrong about the movie as it had nothing to do with horror. I learned that the movie, The Shawshank Redemption was based on King’s short novel - Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption from his wildly acclaimed collection - Different Seasons. The favorable background information and persuasion finally got me curious enough to watch it. I don’t want to tell you the story and ruin it for you in case you haven’t watched it but I will tell you the end of the movie, I had goose bumps and my mouth was open in sheer amazement of what I had just seen. The pizza I had ordered lay untouched and had gone cold as I had failed to even notice it! The story, narration, dialogues and above all, characters are so powerful that it just had me mesmerized. This is one of those movies that grabs your interest from the first scene to the last. The tagline of the movie reads “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free”. The story revolves around hope, perseverance, redemption and friendship. The main protagonist 'Andy Dufresne' played by Tim Robbins is unique, enigmatic and has such a refreshing perspective on life that you just wish you could think like him. The narration by 'Red' played by the legendary Morgan Freeman is simple yet so meaningful. All the actors are simply brilliant, each scene is remarkably realistic, the background music is soulful and the subtle message that the movie ends with is nothing short of inspiring. I just don’t tire of raving about this movie.

After watching The Shawshank Redemption, I read the novel - Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption from the collection Different Seasons. Calling it an incredible book would be an understatement. Undoubtedly it is one of Stephen King’s greatest works. After reading it, I realized that I like King’s books much better when they are not trying to scare the living daylights out of me! This thought was reinforced when I read his ‘Green Mile', in my opinion another incredible book. But let’s leave that for another day…

As my fascination with The Shawshank Redemption continued to grow, I read several articles about the movie. I read that in spite of being nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Actor (Morgan Freeman), it didn’t win a single one as it was nominated the same year as Forrest Gump which swept all the awards. I was surprised as in my opinion, a movie of this caliber certainly deserved some sort of recognition. I was however very pleased to read that the Academy Award nominations that the movie received garnered so much attention that more and more people began to watch it and as word of mouth spread, its appreciation and popularity soared to greater heights. That is the reason why despite of the lack of awards and wide-spread critical acclaim, this movie has still managed to top most of the viewer’s choice movie polls. 

At the end of my review lies a plea to go and watch this movie. If you like it, welcome to the club but if you hate it, I’m afraid we can never be friends!

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