CPD Classics: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Review

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Directed by Frank Darabont

Based on Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Tim Robbins
Morgan Freeman
Bob Gunton
William Sadler
Clancy Brown
Gil Bellows
Mark Rolston
James Whitmore
Jeffrey DeMunn

Music by Thomas Newman

Running time: 142 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Andy Dufresne is a banker sent to Shawshank State Prison after being convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. While there, be becomes friends with fellow inmate Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding. Through years of hardship, Andy maintains his innocence and never gives up hope.

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

First off, I’ll point out that this is in the IMDB Top 250 so I figured it would be a good one to do today to help kick off all the guest IMDB Top 250 reviews that I’ll start posting next week (More about that after the review). And what a place to start! The Shawshank Redemption takes the number one spot, having been voted as the best movie of all-time by IMDB users. So why is that….?

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I’m a Shawshank lover. Yep – I’m one of those mainstream masses who is perfectly happy to see Shawshank at number one above the likes of The Godfather and Citizen Kane. Yep – it’s a “feel good” movie. Yep – it may sometimes try a little too hard to be a “feel good” movie. You know what? I don’t care. Because this movie DOES make me feel good! And there’s nothing wrong with that. And most importantly, to me, it has these amazing feel good moments yet it doesn’t feel contrived. Most of us film lovers can see right through that. If Shawshank was guilty of that, it wouldn’t have stayed in the number one spot for all these years. It tells a pretty straight forward story in a straight forward way. I suppose thanks can go to Stephen King for that, my very favorite author and whose adapted works will be featuring more than just this once in my CPD Classics series.

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But clearly the combination of Stephen King & Frank Darabont just WORKS. The Green Mile is also absolutely fantastic and I think The Mist is a great underrated film. Oh, and I have to mention a third very important element: Thomas Newman. I ADORE so many Thomas Newman scores. He’s amazing & doesn’t quite seem to get the credit he deserves. Now isn’t the time to go into him, though, as I think I should devote an entire post to him someday.

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I don’t know if I need to go into any detail with this review. I would assume that most everyone has seen this movie by now and, if not, I think it’s extremely well known what happens in it anyway. I love this film and I’m clearly not alone in feeling this way, although I rarely see it mentioned amongst bloggers here so I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts on this one in the comments below. Is it too mainstream for the blogging crowd? Too obvious & “feel good”? Am I now going to be considered uncool and you’ll all run me out of (WordPress) town?

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I think there are a lot of things that make The Shawshank Redemption such a widely loved film and the movie just gets so many things “right” that they all combine to give us something spectacular: Feel good moments like the beer & opera scenes (which never fail to move me no matter how many times I watch this movie). Andy & Red’s friendship. The lesser characters such as Brooks & Heywood (and the heartbreakingly beautiful “Brooks Was Here” theme from Thomas Newman). Seeing the posters on the wall change, showing the passage of time. Alexandre Dumbass. The pet bird. Rita Hayworth. And, of course, the overall message of hope.

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More than anything, though, I think it’s Stephen King’s story and Darabont’s ability to give us scenes of pure beauty in a movie based someplace as awful as a prison, along with Thomas Newman’s amazing score plus superb narration from the always lovely-to-listen-to voice of Morgan Freeman which may all be most to thank for making The Shawshank Redemption as near to perfection as I think any film could ever really get. That’s why The Shawshank Redemption is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 10/10

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(That’s the first 10 I’ve given on my site)

IMDB Top 250 Guest Reviews: Thanks once again to all who signed up to help me finish my IMDB Top 250 Challenge by doing guest reviews. I’m still amazed by the huge response and can’t believe I’ve already received some reviews! So I’ll be starting to post them next week (I’ll e-mail you to let you know when yours will be posted). There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone else would like to join in! You can find a list with the remaining movies HERE.

JOHN HUGHES BLOGATHON: Also, a quick reminder that March is when I’ll be having the John Hughes blogathon (so the Top 250 thing will go on hold for a month). I’ve had several reviews so far – thank you everyone! I’d like to receive the rest by the end of this month at the latest so that I can get them all scheduled & let you know when yours will be posted. Reviews can be e-mailed to tableninemutant at hotmail dot com. AND – I’d be happy for anyone to still join!!! You can do any film you want. See more details HERE. 🙂

67 thoughts on “CPD Classics: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Review

  1. excellent review for an excellent movie. You are totally right about everything you said!

    Interesting that you would post a movie with no women in it on Valentines Day 🙂 eventhough it all about love and friendship.

    Darabont is one of the most underrated filmmakers and I love everything he has made including the very obscure The Majestic (2001)

    I reviewed it last May, so you can’t say everyone ignores it! 🙂

    Did you see my post yesterday about you?

  2. Forget CPD Classic. This is just a Classic, worthy of 10/10 (or in my case, an A+) grade.

    But best movie of all time? Sometimes I just don’t understand IMDB uses, I guess.

  3. This is an outstanding film. It’s one of the ones that turned me into a cinephile. I normally like a gritty unhappy ending but the payoff in this just feels so utterly DESERVED! And you come to care so much about the characters. Great review.

    • Thanks! I’m so glad you agree. : ) Yes, I’d say it’s definitely one of the ones most responsible for making me a cinephile as well. No movie before it had ever moved me QUITE so much. Everything feels so perfect – I really can’t say a bad word about it.

  4. This movie’s truly a masterpiece and always seems to get better and better, each and every time I watch it. That’s when you know you have a wonderful movie on your hands. Good review.

  5. Yaaayyy Shawshank! Love this one! Excellent review, Miss Mutant. Hoping to watch Some Kind of Wonderful this weekend and get you a review ASAP! 😀 P.S. May have asked this already, but I have the memory of a goldfish so I’ll ask again: do you care what format it’s in?

  6. I seriously just watched this again on Wednesday, such a good movie. You’d be surprised to know I never saw this movie until I was in college, hard to believe I waited so many years to see it. Great write up.

  7. Such a life affirming, very well directed, superbly acted and clever-as-hell movie. Love it. Is it wrong I just figured out what the CPD bit means in CPD classics? Don’t judge me!! lol.

  8. Who can possibly name their greatest film of all time? I have about 10 answers that I randomly choose from when someone asks me that question. The Shawshank Redemption is one of those answers. 🙂

    • Yeah – I have a few rotating favorites (The Princess Bride being the other main one I say). Hard to pick a number one favorite of all-time! But Shawshank easily makes it very high on my list. : )

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