“The Shawshank Redemption (1994)” Review

I know, I know. It’s another film that is widely regarded as a classic of cinema, and I’ve never seen it.

I’ve probably had the DVD for more than a decade, having bought it on spec (in the days when DVDs cost a few bob more than today) in the belief it would deserve a place in my collection, but not got to watching it… until now.

Why did I watch it?

The Shawshank Redemption regularly makes those ‘Top 100 Films’ lists.

Did it meet expectations?

Oh yes. This is a terrific film – not that you need telling that, as you’re bound to have seen it – one of those rare beasts where you’d be happy to start watching again at the beginning the second it ends. I started enjoying it almost immediately, despite not really having a very clear idea what the film was actually about. It’s based on a Stephen King short story (with a superior title – Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption) and follows a man incarcerated for the murder of his wife, of which he claims he is innocent, and the friendship he finds in prison.

It’s impressively solid, unfussy storytelling, but that kind of undersells it. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are both superb. The pacing, over its two and a half hours, is exemplary – covering the decades without ever feeling rushed. It’s packed with memorable little moments that convey some horror, or small triumph, in the struggle to find some autonomy and self-sufficiency.

You should watch it if…

  • You’re at all interested in film & storytelling

You shouldn’t watch it if…

  • You can’t take a tiny little bit of sentimentality

Next up: Reservoir Dogs (1992). I know, I know…

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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