Friday, January 6, 2012

The IMDB Tops: 10 thoughts on... The Shawshank Redemption

Dir. Frank Darabont | USA
★ Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bon Gunton


Current IMDB rank - rating - votes

1. Who would have thought that the currently most popular film would be such a softie? I'm not a frequent cineweeper, but the final sequence touched something very deep down - as corny as that sounds.
It was nothing I had expected, not even a few seconds before the tears started falling. It was like somebody had suddenly turned on some magnificent music that you hadn't heard before, but that still sounded familiar (sounds corny again).

2. Speaking of familiar, The Shawshank Redemption is a very good film, but there was something familiar, well-known about each and every scene. It was like all the good "mainstream" films put together, which shouldn't come as a surprise considering its cinematic position. 
Watching this film, I feel, has helped me understand cinema and cinematic taste more, and how hard it is to hit the right notes for the audience in fusion with your own artistic standards... and what an example of that can look like.

3. So Tim Robbins... Never heard of the man. 
A look at his filmography feels like reading Chinese. Some expressions seem familiar: The Green Lantern (this is not starting out well)... bla bla bla... oh, High Fidelity! Still need to see that one... And yeah, that's kinda it. And, well, Top Gun.
I liked him in this film though. But there's a big but. Morgan Freeman was better, I love this guy in anything.

4. Morgan Freeman... loved him in this one. Loved his accent, actually loved all the accents in this film, I guess it's the same one for everybody. It sounds rural, but you can still understand everything. 
It wakes (not existing) memories of the times when... yeah, I don't know, when... there were no computers, no DVDs or video cassettes for that matter. No movie blogs. War. Inhuman prisons, except for Guantanamo and those.
Okay, maybe not the best time to live.

5. I don't know why, but I feel like I'm trying to be funny today. Hope you don't mind.
Anyhow, there's a wonderful dry humor and somewhat ironic humor to The Shawshank Redemption, that delivers us some really cool quotes too. Like:

„Get busy living or get busy dying“.

Later re-interpreted by a certain musician into "Get rich or die trying". Maybe. Or maybe that has nothing to do with it, probably that's from some much older Hitchcock film or something.

6. An interesting fact concerning the "popularity" and thereby also "fame" of this particular motion picture: before I really developed a more intellectual interest [addiction] in films, I had never ever heard of this film. Event though my mum had a copy of it, which by the way is why I happened to watch it. Thought it was some cool Stephen King horror flick (the German title is not the original one, that's why). And even when I heard about it here and there in the blogosphere and all that, I wasn't really interested in watching it, and I had no idea what the name meant.
Shawshank? And what's a "redemption". Hm, must be some western with Indians, kind of like Dancing with Wolves, I mean Shawshank sounds Indian.

7. It has weaknesses too, one of the strongest being that once more, this is a very well-known and popular film without female characters! A huge mistake, that probably wouldn't be that important if I hadn't just seen 7 Samurai and Das Boot. Two films kind of these had excuses for not including women, but I was really mad at Kurosawa. 
Of course, this one did not leave much room for females, and I accept that, also because the non-presence of them makes them seem like magnificent, angel-like creatures that man is in awe of.
But what hurts me is that a remarkable amount of popular and critically acclaimed films are one-gender-shows, and as much as I love The Hangover, I feel that women-centered films are too often considered second class "chick-flicks". It doesn't help that many of them actually are second class... films that most men wouldn't take a big interest in, even though they can be fun. 
The Help is one of the films that have made me hope again, though.

8. Honestly, Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe were so much prettier than the later poster ladies. Sometimes, old really is gold. I loved the cinema scene too - cinema or film-watching sequences in a film are a film geek's dream come true, aren't they? I should make a list of my favorites.
And something else that is gold, and that I don't indulge in often enough (just like pre-90s movies, you've got me): opera. The scene I'm talking about is pure magic.

9. Now that I think about it, The Shawshank Redemption really is a formula film in some ways, don't you think? There's this one formula that I find most popular films, books and stories follow, in a way, though only the more creative ones win the race. You know this... "you have to crawl through a tunnel of shit to reach nirvana", kind of. Know what I mean? This is everywhere, I tell you, probably even in the most experimental films - even though their interpretation often is: "you think there's light at the end of the tunnel of shit, but there isn't". 

10. We can discuss how original, or how creative and artistic The Shawshank Redemption is, and whether it deserves its rank on top of the IMDB Top 250.
But I don't think many persons are able to not like it, and somehow this does make it a "perfect" film that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Now that's all I have to say for now.

Rating: 8.3


  1. I'm one of the people who absolutely loves Tim Robbins in this, and I don't understand how Morgan Freeman got the nomination over him. For Robbins, watch his Oscar-winning role in Mystic River.

    I think that some films don't need to be edgy- what Shawshank Redemption is is a beautifully made film with a great story and a fantastic ending. I'm actually happy that such a hopeful and lovely film tops the IMDb list than something esoteric or violent. Also it really did make sense why there were no women in this.

    Interesting post though :)

  2. I agree with a lot of your points about this film. It is a well made, feelgood story, but it doesn't tread far from the traditional formula. I think I would score this one about the same as you as well, somewhere in the high 7 low 8 range.

  3. I was almost afraid that I will be the only one who feels like it not worth No.1. I like it and understand the influence it has. I even find the scene where he escapes greatly inspiring. But, if not for Prison Break, I probably would not have seen this. 8/10 for me.

  4. Nikhat - That's what I tried to say; the lack of women in this made sense, but I'm always disappointed to see so many male-centered films that have gained a lot of success and popularity.
    Thanks for recommending Mystic River, I hope you didn't get me wrong - I really liked Robbins, just Freeman was my favorite.

    Well, I wouldn't say this film is a happy kids movie, but I do get your point... the end lifts it all up - I feared it would be sad.

    Bonjour Tristesse - Nice to hear we share an opinion on this one.

    SDG - Hm, I wasn't, because I had read quite a few bloggers complain about it being the No. 1.
    The escape scene is something, even though it's a bit formula-esque it still took me by surprise.

  5. Good points you make about Freeman's voice, his voice-over is so powerful, maybe only Taxi Driver or Fight Club can compare for inner-monologue.
    Freeman kind of made a career doing voice-over in Million dollar Baby, Bucket list, nature documentaries.

    If you're interested in the woman issue in the media, I recommend the doc Miss Representation (2011), its going on my upcoming top 10 films from 2011 list.

    Yeah, Shawshank is kind of a formula movie, but still works for repeat viewings cause of the emotions for me.

    Ps Get rich or die trying was a 50 Cent album

  6. Chris - I know :). I used to like 50 Cent, but I find his music rather un-innovative now.

    Thank you for recommending the doc, I don't watch enough of them, so it's good when somebody gives me some advice about what to watch.

    Didn't know that Freeman voiced-over nature documentaries, I have to see some of them!

  7. Impressive take on Shawshank. This movie is one of the best movie adaptation from book. Both book and movie are equally great.

    ~Novroz (borrowing my turtle's account)

  8. Novroz - Thanks. Good to hear that the book is just as great, maybe this will be the first Steven King book I'm able to read, as it's not a horror story.


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