The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption ★★★★

Film #51 of Project 90

”Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

Why The Shawshank Redemption is such a popular movie? It is well-made and well-paced, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are perfect in their roles and Frank Darabont’s ability of narrating the story without hiccups and his charming way of using multiple supporting characters to add more depth to the story of his two protagonists make the experience enjoyable and rewarding. But can a movie reach the success of Shawshank only by being cinematically perfect? There should be some kind of an explanation for its matchless popularity, but first you need to pick a keyword and then form your rationalization around it. And for me that keyword is “HOPE”.

This is a modern fairytale, a classic good vs evil battle, a story of having faith in light, a story of fighting darkness with your courage and confidence, a story of believing in yourself, a heart-warming story where the “good guys” win and the “bad-guys” lose. And who doesn't like that? Experiencing The Shawshank Redemption is like experiencing the relief and joy that comes with the sunrise, it is an uplifting experience which will work like a miracle when you’re desperate and hopeless, it injects hope into your veins and in the world we’re living in that’s probably the most important thing everyone needs.

The way Frank Darabont stays away from sentimentality is praiseworthy, this is the kind of story that has the potential to become intolerably syrupy, it could have been a pretty painful experience but fortunately Darabont never puts a foot wrong when it comes to portraying sympathetic and convincing characters who believe in themselves, they don’t let the terrible circumstance to get the better of them, they don’t choose to st around and sob, instead they put their faith to good use. What makes the story cheerful is their determination.

It’s not fair to praise the film and not mention Roger Deakins’ absolutely phenomenal cinematography, his camera finds a way into the soul of film’s characters and uncovers all their inner feelings. Through his pictures, Deakins transforms all that hope and glory of the story to the screen and makes you feel the liberation that is an important theme of the film, Thomas Newman’s score along with Freeman’s controlled narration are wonderful elements that make Shawshank a pleasing experience for the ears.

The Shawshank Redemption is not a complex film and may be its success lies in its simplicity. Being able to make a film about the power of hope and faith without becoming sentimental or making things too complicated is not something that every film maker can do and what Frank Darabont does here is clearly some kind of a cinematic miracle. A powerful and inspiring film that will easily connect with everyone.

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