Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Shawshank Redemption

I think at least four people suggested this one; it really might be the best movie ever made.

The Shawshank Redemption, 1994. Directed by Frank Darabont.
starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton.

"Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency." (IMDB). 

This film succeeds because it's a great story (Stephen King) done by a great director (Frank Darabont) with a great cast (everyone involved). Props also go to Thomas Newman, who did the music. But it's not just that everything comes together so brilliantly as a production, obviously it does, but there is something about the overall message going on here that literally causes me to cry every time I think of it . . . it's emotional, it's heartbreaking, but it's uplifting, too.

This is the story of Andy Dufresne and Ellis (Red) Boyd Redding. Andy is new, quiet, keeps to himself, is "a cold fish;" Red is the opposite---a man who can get things (smokes, sipping whiskey, posters), a man who knows things (being rejected for parole, who to avoid in the showers, what happens the first night new inmates arrive), a respected man inside the prison. Their story together becomes one of friendshiphumanity, and hope: Andy develops a true friendship with Red, uses his intelligence and humanity to make others comfortable, more free-feeling, and eventually escapes.

So Red and Andy are obviously the key players here, but the supporting ones are pretty brilliant, too. The stuttering Heywood (Bill Sadler, "Alexan-dree Dum, Dumas, Dumb Ass?"), the quiet, in-the-background Italian guy (Richie Apriel from The Sopranos!), slippery Warden Norton (Bob Gunton), dorky question-asking, cell tossing guard (Dr. Romano from ER), and my personal favorite, Captain Hadley (Clancy Brown), aka Kelvin from LOST aka Brother Justin from Carnivale.


Seriously, this guy was one hell of a bad ass, constantly removing his prison hat for extra intimidation and getting all the killer lines:

"You speak English, Butt-Steak?"
"What the Christ is this happy horse-shit?"
"You tell me, Fuck-stick, they're all addressed to you!"

Is it a sign of immaturity that I find the way he uses curse words *hilarious*? Total prick, he was, but gifted with language, I'll give him that.

The director's choices thrill me to no end. From the steamy little love session going on between Andy's wife and lover (sorry, but it's kinda hot) to the respectful way Brooks's last scenes are filmed (revealing just enough for it to be tasteful, and with that remorseful accompaniment), to the tilt up the building during Andy's first entrance, to Red's seriously awesome swagger through the yard and later childishly giddy grin when he walks out the front gate, to probably my favorite driven close-up of all time----Warden Norton's sudden dart to the needlework covering the safe when the cops come for him  ("His Judgement Cometh and That Right Soon," CROSS-STITCHED!)---even the cornfields and gravel roads at the end get me a little excited, not to mention the ocean. Everything just . . . worked.

And think for a minute about the things people say to each other in this film----when was the last time you were really struck by the seriousness, the weight of peoples' words? Damn, man!

"You underestimate yourself."
"Every man has his breaking point."
"Get busy living or get busy dying."
"Salvation lies within."

"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things."

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