The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

shawshank redemption poster 1994 movie
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great story, great acting


Movie Info

Movie Name: The Shawshank Redemption

Studio: Castle Rock Entertainment

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s): September 10, 1994 (Toronto International Film Festival)/September 13, 1994 (Premiere)/September 23, 1994 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

shawshank redemption rita hayworth andy red morgan freeman tim robbins

I want you to get me Rita Hayworth

Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to prison for life for the murder of his wife and lover. Proclaiming his innocence, Andy meets Red (Morgan Freeman) a long-timer who can get anything. Faced with a cold and controlling Warden Norton (Bob Gunton), Andy gives up trying to prove he is innocent and just decides to survive prison life. His arrival at Shawshank Prison changes Shawshank forever and starts a legend.

Directed by Frank Darabont, The Shawshank Redemption is a prison drama.  The movie adapted a short novel from Stephen King’s 1982 book Different Seasons (where it was called “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”).  The film received positive reviews but performed poorly at the box office.  It received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Freeman), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score.  The movie became a staple on cable television and gained a large audience since its release.  The film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2015.

shawshank redemption escape hole bob gunton morgan freeman clancy brown

Evil meets his match

I was excited when The Shawshank Redemption was coming out.  I had liked the short story and went to see it in the theaters with a friend.  We both really liked it…then…no one talked about The Shawshank Redemption.  Cut to a couple years later when everyone seemed to think it was their favorite movie of all time.  The Shawshank Redemption became overplayed, but it still is a solid movie (and with Pulp Fiction was robbed by Forrest Gump as Best Picture).

The story is pretty simple and classic, but it also has a great built in twist.  Most of the prisoners are “good guys” and the establishment that keeps them there are the bad guys (despite the whole “I’m not guilty” mentality of the criminal characters).  It also manages to make one of my least favorite tropes not painful…the framed man.  Despite Andy’s innocence, the movie dwells on the hope more than the framing.  It leads to a great ending twist that completely alleviates the despair of the course of the movie.

shawshank redemption andy dufresne brooks was here james whitmore tim robbins

Where the young become old…

What helps the smart script is all the great actors in it. Morgan Freeman (in what has become his typical “narrator” role) is perfect as the long time prison man Red, and Tim Robbins gives a great and subtle performance as the tragic Andy Dufresne.  Bob Gunton harkens to villains like Nurse Ratchet from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest…you just love to hate him.  There are also nice performances by James Whitmore as Brooks who is “rehabilitated” and teaches a sad lesson to the other prisoners.

The movie looks fantastic.  The movie has great cinematography and a perfect score.  It is very subtle and manages to make a movie set in a prison seem big and gothic.  Despite being prisoners, it seems like a complete world for the characters.  It is a bit difficult to realize how much time has really passed since making the actors age the number of years they are in there can be difficult.  The movie does the best it can with sets and props to give an idea on change.

shawshank redemption escape freedom tim robbins


Years have passed since the release of The Shawshank Redemption…even long than it took to dig the tunnel.  The movie has remained a touchstone film for many, and it deserves it.  It is both mainstream and art, and it genuinely uplifting which cannot be said about a lot films.  While it is a look at the prison system and how it handles crime, it is more about what is inside a person which is why it probably has such a wide swath of fans.  The Shawshank Redemption shines on…Get busy living or get busy dying.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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