The Shawshank Redemption – Oscarless Greatness

The Shawshank Redemption – Oscarless Greatness

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  1. Here is a shocking fact:  The Shawshank Redemption didn’t win any Academy Awards.  It was nominated in 1995 for 7 Oscars, but lost to "Forrest Gump" for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Film Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay.  Shawshank also lost Best Original Score to The Lion King and Best Cinematography to Legends of the Fall.  Despite not winning any of the coveted Oscar Statues, Shawshank is widely considered one of the best films ever made.  On, it holds a score of 90% from critics and an astonishing 98% from users.

    What is it about?

    To sumarize all two hours and 22 minutes of Shawshank would be too much to ask of anyone.  There are so many side stories and intricacies that you will have to see it to fully appreciate it.  That is shocking, however, since the film is based on a novella by Stephen King.  Some full length novels are turned into films that only last an hour and a half or so.  Not so with Shawshank.

    The plot follows Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) who is convicted of murdering his cheating wife and her lover and sentenced to serve two consecutive life sentences.  During his time in prison, he builds a library, does the guards’ taxes, saves at least one life, launders money, spends an inordinate amount of time in solitary confinement, gets his friends some beer, helps many inmates get their GED’s, and much more all while maintaining that he is an innocent man.

    Andy also befriends an older inmate nicknamed Red (Morgan Freeman).  Red is quite the leader in Shawshank.  He is able to get people things like brandy, a chess board, posters of beautiful women, etc.  He is on his way to becoming "institutionalized" as he says, but Andy helps him change that and, more importantly, save his life even though the prison threatens to take it.

    After 19 years at Shawshank, Andy shocks everyone in a mind-blowing twist that you will not see coming… unless you’ve seen the movie already, read the novella, or heard about from any pop culture reference.  It is a masterful ending that is also very satsifying.  Watch it to find out what happens.  You won’t regret it.

    Is it any good?

    This is one of the best drama films you will see.  It is written and directed by three-time Oscar nominee, Frank Darbont, who also wrote and directed 1999’s The Green Mile (which, ironically, is also adapted from Stephen King’s work).  Even though Darabont hasn’t ever won an Oscar, he can certainly tell a story.  Yes, he had some great source material (seeing as how Stephen King is master of his craft), but it takes more than just great source material to make a great film.  And any director that can tell a dramatic story that holds an audience’s attention for almost two and a half hours is very good at what they do.  That means that the film is wonderfully paced.  If it wasn’t, you would get bored as you watch.

    Another thing this film has going for it is the amazing acting from Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.  The rest of the cast is pretty solid as well, but these two stand out.  Robbins does a perfect job of showing how different Dufresne is from the rest of the prisoners.  He makes it clear that Dufresne does not belong in prison.  He also shows a wide emotional range throughout the film.

    Morgan Freeman proves two things yet again to you in Shawshank:  he is a very good actor and he is one of the best narrators to ever record voiceovers in Hollywood.  If there was a category at the Academy Awards for Best Narration, Freeman would have more Oscar statues than he would know what to do with.  He not only has a wonderful sounding voice, but he knows how to make it seem like he is talking directly to you and that he really cares that you understand what he’s saying.  He connects with the audience better than many others on screen and in his voiceovers.

    Best quotes…

    "Get busy living, or get busy dying"  – Andy Dufresne

    "Some birds aren’t meant to be caged.  Their feathers are too bright."  – Red

    "Bad luck, I guess.  It floats around.  It’s got to land on somebody."  – Andy Dufresne

    "The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry."  – Brooks

    Nolan’s Grade:  A+

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