SPOILAR ALART: SPOILARS WIL B COMIN
This week - The Shawshank Redemption
They send you here for life, and that's exactly what they take. The part that counts, anyway.
Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne
Morgan Freeman as Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding
Bob Gunton as Warden Norton
William Sadler as Heywood
Clancy Brown as Capt. Hadley
It's interesting to see the psychological shifts in a person's mind when he goes from big-shot banker to prison *****, as is the seemingly dark fate for our protagonist Andy Dufresne. The movie is made from the point of view of Red, played by Morgan Freeman, and so one takes into account what the narrator sees - "must admit I didn't think much of Andy first time I laid eyes on him" - and what one sees oneself, on the screen.
The character of Andy Dufresne is a mysterious one; he is hard, cold, collected - "His first night in the joint ... he never made a sound." And yet from his beginnings as the sex toy of our great friends, the prison rapists - "You have to be human first, they don't qualify" - to prison accountant, on to the brilliant mastermind we see at the end, we see that Andy Dufresne's character, played brilliantly by Tim Robbins, is nothing but an illusion to an intelligent, savvy mind that tricks everybody, even his best friend Red, into thinking he has submitted to prison life - after all, by his escape, it had been 20-odd years.
The movie teaches a lot of life lessons that have been brushed aside in recent years to the back of our minds where we keep those things we know are true and decent but choose to look over. Compassion, perseverence, and determination are traits Andy Dufresne calls his own, examples being not only the larger picture of spending 20 years chipping away at a stone wall behind an array of sexually appealing posters, but the examples that can slip away - Tommy Williams, the high school drop-out who passes his exams while Andy is in solitary, for instance. Andy Dufresne embodies the virtues that we all like to see in a person, but very people actually try to pursue due to temptations that are closer in view.
And now we come to Red. Morgan Freeman, the man with the Midas touch, brings gold to every character he ever plays - probably one of the reasons he plays God in 2 movies. A voice to die for makes the concept of the narrator an even more enticing one, and acting talent makes his journey on the back of Andy Dufresne even more thrilling. Red is often sidelined to allow for Andy's character to grow, but we are constantly reminded, at the end more than ever, that he is the guy we are following, and Andy is, as is inherent with people like him, merely a passing object that affects us and leaves us. Red had the luck of 20 solid years with Andy.
Finally, prison life is analysed in this movie. The examples range from the cliched rapists to the crooked, bad-guy Warden to the psychological effects of prison life - "These walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That's institutionalized." The lessons taught on general prison life - "Prison life consists of routine, and then more routine" - sometimes cause other aspects of the film to drop in imagination, the cliches being a good example.
The Shawshank Redemption, amidst its few faults, is a film not only filled to the brim with acting talent, but one that, although confined to a prison block, can have the audience struck to their seats wanting more. The aim of a film is to increase tension throughout the film until the crescendo at the end, and this conventionality is superbly fulfilled in this movie.
Shyam Popat gives this movie 9.5/10