Tonight: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
If I were a man with better planning, it would be entirely intentional that I am watching two Frank Darabont films back to back. Thing is, I would have likely gone through this review without even considering who made the movie. I just happened to watch a video today about the Mist and it mentioned that the director also made The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption.
The reason this movie made the list tonight was two-fold. 1. We were watching at my parent’s house and it had to be safe for my mother to watch. 2. It is due back at the library soon.
So this movie received the same “Stephen King taint” that prevented me from watching it for ages. I assumed it was going to be scary somehow. Some horror lurking in the story that would leave me with nightmares. By the time I had grown past that, it just became one movie amongst a thousand that I should see, but haven’t.
It was actually available for streaming this past year and I was sorely tempted, but I had a plan and was going to stick to it.
So this is a movie that has also been referenced several times. Two of note: Family Guy and Robot Chicken. Peter Griffin makes an escape, and the Joker tricks Batman into going into the sewer on Taco Night.
Honestly, this movie has been referenced so many times, the actual movie begins to seem like parody.
I read the short story that this movie is based on. Being a short story they both stretch and condense the story. Instead of different wardens, they just have the one. So the same Warden that is threatening to take away all of Andy’s privileges is the same one that gave them to him in the first place.
But to back up to the beginning, Andy Dufresne is accused of killing his wife and her lover. Due to Andy being very robotic and logical, the Judge and jury see him as cold and remorseless, and give him two life sentences.
Andy ends up in Shawshank where Morgan Freeman narrates his life for the rest of the movie.
The movie deals partly with prison rape, corruption, and how inmates in the early prison system were largely free labor. Andy ends up showing himself to be extremely useful as a free accountant. He ends up doing all the guards taxes and money laundering.
As a result, Andy is allowed to build up a pet project of expanding the prison library and educational programs.
Seems to be just a slice of life, but then comes along Tommy Williams. Andy is helping Tommy earn his high school diploma, and it is revealed that Tommy knows the guy who ACTUALLY killed Andy’s wife and lover.
When Andy brings this to the Warden and the Warden refuses to do anything with it. In fact he ends up throwing Andy in solitary for a month.
Tommy earns his diploma and then the Warden has him killed when Tommy says he’ll tell the truth about Andy.
This is actually a MAJOR change from the short story. Tommy actually ends up getting transferred to a prison closer to his wife and child with a cushy work detail and instructions to shut up.
The Warden wants to keep Andy on a leash and doing his books. Andy seems to be broken, but starts talking about a life on the outside. Finding a life on the beach in Mexico.
And he says the iconic line, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” Is this where that line originates from? A quick search seems to only list this as the source. Which is interesting.
So one of the other inmates gave Andy 6 feet of rope. Everyone is tensing up thinking that Andy is about to end it all.
The next morning, Andy doesn’t step out for morning counts. And the warden suddenly finds a big hole behind the poster in Andy’s cell. We then flash back to Andy planning his great escape for 20 years. He then starts pulling all of the Warden’s money out of all the banks and mails in evidence of the corruption in Shawshank.
The Warden ends up killing himself.
I can’t remember whether or not that happened in the novel or not. Like I said, there were several Wardens in the book.
Morgan Freeman then finally gets paroled, and is struggling to re-enter society. However, remembering his conversation with Andy, he goes to stone wall and under a few lightly piled rocks, finds a letter from Andy. Morgan Freeman packs up his stuff, vandalizes the halfway house, and hops a bus to Mexico.
There he finds Andy on a beach scraping paint off a boat. The end.
I don’t have to tell anybody that this is a good movie. I do like that although this movie shows guards as corrupt, Frank Darabont and Stephen King make a point to correct this in The Green Mile. Yes there is Percy who is an abusive asshat, but the rest of them are good guys.
Tomorrow: So lets go from one of Morgan Freeman’s more iconic roles and switch to one of his more s****y ones.