I had the great fortune recently of being able to go to the cinema and see this film on the big screen as it was originally intended to be watched. If you ever find you have the opportunity to do the same then I highly recommend it, because seeing it in a distraction free environment where you only focus on the film (and not missing your mouth with your choice of snacks and drinks) is utterly breathtaking. I’ve seen the film many (many) times before, but seeing it at the cinema was like seeing it again for the first time; I was left tingling all over because of its sheer brilliance.
In various lists of greatest ever films that circulate every now and then (or at least the ones I’ve seen), ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ usually makes the top five if not the number one spot, for one simple reason in my opinion; it is an utterly perfect film. If you’ve never seen it before then if you want to see a great film then I highly recommend it.
If you want to see a film where the characters are three dimensional, well acted and engage your attention from start to finish then watch this film. If you want to sympathize with the protagonist and hate the antagonists then watch this film. If you want to see some beautiful cinematography then watch this film. If you want to watch a film based on a outstanding script, with a gentle pace and a brilliant twist then ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is for you.
When I write reviews, whether for books or films, I try to give constructive criticism and praise the strengths. The Shawshank Redemption doesn’t have one weakness, and in truth its strengths speak for themselves.
It might make you wonder why I’m bothering to even write a review at all. Well, because for all of its brilliance, every last piece of perfection that people can pick as their favourite thing about this film, what I love about this film is a message that should never be forgotten.
Hope: it is a powerful and dangerous feeling. It is the part of your soul that no matter who you are, where you are and what you are doing, that nobody else can take from you if you don’t let them. People can try to destroy your hope; people can tell you that its pointless to hope; people might even degrade you because you chose hope over hopelessness. But only you can let them take it from you; it isn’t something they can do without your consent.
And with hope you can motivate yourself to achieve anything. That is what ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is about; that message just happens to be woven into a killer prison film, with great characters and an even greater story.