The Shawshank Redemption: 25 Years Later
It is safe to say that film preferences differ from person to person.Film taste is subjective, and even the most beloved films have their negative critics. However, once in a while, a film is made that is so universally beloved, it is hard to come across a criticiser.
One such film has recently turned 25 years old. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) is a story of two men, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and Ellis ‘Red’ Redding (Morgan Freeman), who are imprisoned for life for murder.
The Shawshank Redemption is one of the most well-regarded films of all time, receiving 7 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and great critical acclaim from critics and audiences alike. On a personal note, Shawshank Redemption is my favourite film of all time, and I have never met another person who has not praised it as one of the best films they have seen.
But why is Shawshank Redemption so beloved? Surely, a movie whose main characters are murderers and thieves wouldn’t receive the admiration it has. When I sat down for the first time to watch it, I never expected, based on what I knew the film was about, that it would be one I would always be willing to re-watch. I didn’t expect to favour a movie that centres around murder, deceit, fraud, injustice and imprisonment. But there is one theme, one very important theme in The Shawshank Redemption that overpowers all the evils in the film: Hope.
This is what drives people to revisit The Shawshank Redemption, and praise it as one of the greatest films of all time. There are plenty of other films like it technically: films with beautiful cinematography, great acting, a well written script and a strong story, but Shawshank Redemption inspires people. It moves its audience in a way other films don’t. To see Andy, who has to struggle through all the most intense trials of prison life, always striving to look for ways to make the best of what life has handed him, is an inspiration to people everywhere. Tim Robbins even said that “when I met [Nelson Mandela], he talked about loving Shawshank.” The genuine, pure friendship between Andy and Red is yet another reason Shawshank Redemption is so beloved. Throughout the film, we see a friendship develop between the two that is based purely on respect and care, a rare connection for two men to have in any film, let alone a prison movie. There are no ulterior motives, no hidden agendas, just two men who appreciate and bring out the best in each other. Red’s companionship helps Andy maintain his hope, and Andy’s hope inspires Red to be a more honest man and find internal redemption, and in the end, the hope reinforced by their friendship sets them both free.
The Shawshank Redemption is a powerful film that cannot be forgotten. I can confidently say that in another 25 years, it will be as beloved and praised as it is today, as The Shawshank Redemption embodies hope, and as Andy Dufresne said, ‘hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.’