The Shawshank Redemption
I don’t think anyone really knows why this movie pretty much tanked when it was released … and then worked its way up to the #1 spot on the IMDb Top 250 list. I mean, the very top, edging out The Godfather. Some say the title didn’t mean anything to anyone outside of Maine, so they didn’t go. Maybe they should have stuck with Stephen King’s original title: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. This is one of his favorites of his stories that were made into movies, and you can see why. It is brutally faithful to the source material, and it’s one of his best stories. I have noticed that, though many good movies have been made from his novels, some of his best writing has been in the novella form, and that length lends itself to a two-hour movie.
Has there ever been a better “getting even” story? I can’t think of one, off-hand. Those delicious moments when the warden and the chief yard bull realize that their lives are over, when it dawns on them just how well and truly fucked they are … well, I can watch them over and over.
The character of Red was a white Irishman in the story, and is played (perfectly) by Morgan Freeman. I have no trouble with that, but there is one thing I wonder about. Would a Negro Red have been allowed to thrive as much as he did in a basically all-white prison in 1946? Maybe they were so unused to seeing a black person in Maine that they just didn’t know they were supposed to hate him. The story sure wouldn’t play today, when it seems that prisons are in a perpetual state of three-sided war: Whites against blacks against browns.