Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - ★★★★★

Director: Frank Darabont
Writers: Frank Darabont (Screenplay), Stephen King (Novel)
Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, James Whitmore, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown

The Shawshank Redemption is one of the most poetic, uplifting and engaging movies ever made. There are countless iconic scenes, quotable lines and messages to be understood. It is perfect in every way a movie can be. From the faultless performances to the spine-chilling score, each aspect combine to make this worthy of the title, 'Greatest Film of all Time.'

It's the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a quiet and honest man that was sent to Shawshank, a maximum security prison, for a crime he did not commit. Whilst inside, he befriends a man named Red (Morgan Freeman), who can sneak almost anything into the prison. Andy never gives up hope that one day he may escape from Shawshank, which can literally be described as 'hell on earth' for him.

Tim Robbins gave what I consider to be the most underrated performance of all time. Some say that he was cold and unlikable. If you look at his face closely when he is sentenced to life in prison, you can see the realization and heartbreak consume his whole body. It was a subtle and masterful scene in a movie that is full of them. Morgan Freeman was also superb, playing the thoroughly likable and thoughtful Red. He has the most recognizable voice of any actor on Earth, making his narration standout among all other films. Together, these two had a powerful chemistry that elevated the story to make us feel like we're there with them.

The cinematography and music compliment each other perfectly. My favourite scene in the whole film is when the camera pans over Shawshank to the haunting score by Thomas Newman. It's one of the most beautiful scores ever to grace cinema. I also noticed other amazing camera techniques. In one scene Andy tells Red that he's planning to escape. Andy is standing in the light while he's talking, while Red is sitting in the shadows listening to him. It displayed how they felt; one with light and hope in the future, the other with darkness and doubt.

Perhaps the greatest aspect of this film is the incredible dialogue. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least ten lines that apply to life in general. My favourite, "There are places in this world that aren't made out of stone. That there's something inside... that they can't get to, that they can't touch. That's Yours." "What?" "Hope." If someone told me that they thought The Shawshank Redemption had the greatest screenplay of all time, I wouldn't disagree with them.

I dedicate my final thought to the performance of James Whitmore as Brooks Hatlen. Something about the way he spoke, and the things he said really got to me. The simple carving on the beam of his apartment "Brooks was here," is one of the saddest scenes I can recall in all my life of watching movies. His monologue of life outside of Shawshank never fails to strike deep into my core. In a film full of perfection, he was the most perfect.

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