Welcome to the Pile of Shame. Throughout my years of ceaseless debauchery and frankly worrying video game addiction, I missed out on movies that many consider classics. If you’ve ever asked someone if they watched a certain movie and gasped when they said they never did, you know what type of guy I am. I figured that it’s pretty silly that someone like me who lacks the appropriate historical movie education is allowed to write on such an esteemed movie website as ours, and have since created a pile of classic movies that I will work through in order to achieve true enlightenment. This series will be my chronicle through it and you’re more than welcome to tag along. Also, expect some spoilers in there, if you haven’t watched these films already.
Shawshank Redemption was one of those movies that haunted me for years. I heard tales of its brilliance, I’ve seen the references to it and it was often on the top of classic movies that you need to see once in your life. I already knew the basics of the film going in. It’s a story about prisoners going through various ordeals that ultimately ends up with a prisoner escaping to freedom. What I didn’t know was just how beautifully quaint and empathetic the narrative would be and how much time was spent crafting all these characters to a mirror shine. You’d expect prison dramas to have a lot of shanking, shower assaults, weird racially charged gang violence which does appear in this movie periodically, but it was never the focus. The focus was on the beauty of human redemption and the humanity that lies within all of us.
This is a two and a half hour long film, which can be slightly overwhelming at the best of times, but rather than feel like some kind of drag through the sewer pipe, every minute and scene was filled with some kind of meaning or important story thread. Besides, this is a story about men who have nothing but time. It starts with Andy Dufresne getting convicted of the double homicide of his wife and the man she had an affair with, a sub-story that we’re continuously following throughout the movie because we as the viewer are unsure if the man is innocent or not. The trial at the start of the film almost condemned him, but as the movie progresses, it becomes clear that he’s actually innocent against all odds.
Instead of being a narratively rich film, it’s rather a story of characters. When Andy befriends Red, we see a burgeoning story of real human friendship that is moulded within this oppressive setting and the film really takes its time to develop the characters to their final conclusion. We learn of the regret that Red lives with and his reverence for Andy who reminds the prisoners of their humanity within a place that seeks to beat that out of them. These guys are a bunch of criminals, but you start to feel that they are worthy of redemption. That there is atonement, even for men that have done terrible things in their lives. Shawshank Redemption achieves this by putting these men in situations where their empathy is tested and they usually pass.
Andy first comes across as a cold and calculated individual possessing some very high intelligence, but through his actions, we are shown that he is actually a guy with many deep-rooted feelings of love and empathy. He even explains himself to Red at the end of the film where he says he loved his wife with all his heart, but he never had the ability to show it to her. The scene where he got the men working on the rooftop some beer and building an entire prison library from scratch is a testament to the humanity of Andy Dufresne and how, even in the worst possible conditions, you can do the right thing and help out your fellow man.
There are a whole bunch of threads in the movie that are worth discussing. The ruthlessly corrupt warden that makes use of Andy’s skills in order to make himself wealthy who even goes to such insane measures as murdering a young boy in order to keep him quiet. The whole progression of the warden being a God-fearing man to a villain that was taken down by hubris was also brilliant. Red’s running narrative featuring the sultry tones of Morgan Freeman kept the movie going along at such a good pace that you didn’t even feel the movie’s long runtime. The story of Brooks was heartbreaking while also being rooted in plausible reality. The existential musings that the prisoners go through that often didn’t befit their ruthless exteriors.
Shawshank Redemption was a movie of many threads and stories that come together to create a pure piece of cinematic glory. It all fit together, nothing was done unintentionally and the character development is one for the ages. It’s not every day that a movie about prisoners would touch your heart and show you that yes, there is something worth fighting for, even if the odds are massively stacked against you. Bad luck and huge mistakes shouldn’t be enough to keep you from fighting and to be an honest good person. I think in this terrifying world, we all need that message in our lives.
I can honestly say that I understand why Shawshank Redemption is so loved by everyone who has watched it. It’s such a strong movie and watching experience that I will forever recommend it to anyone who claims they love movies.
Get busy living, or get busy dying.
We’ve been picking away at the Pile of Shame, but it’s still towering over us! I’m in the mood for something a little funny following a bunch of “serious” films, so next week I’m watching The Big Lebowski.
Latest posts by MGTHABO (see all)
- The Pile Of Shame: The Theory Of Everything – A Triumph - March 19, 2018
- Movie News: Tommy Wiseau Would Make A Great Joker - March 14, 2018
- The Pile Of Shame: Drive – A Bloodstained Piece Of Art - March 9, 2018