Shawshank Redemption

My favorite film: Shawshank Redemption. Here’s a film that’s worth watching over and over. The script, the acting, the cinematography, the symbolism, the music, everything comes together perfectly in a cinematic experience that rocks the boat for me every time I see it.

I could write oodles on this film. Just go watch it if you haven’t ever seen it. Look out. It’s tough. It’s gritty and some of the scenes of violence are pretty gut wrenching. However, the scenes of prison brutality are necessary for the final redemptive pay off.

Stuck up banker Andy DuFresne, played superbly by Tim Robbins, is sent to Shawshank prison for two life terms for murders he didn’t commit. While there he is put through hell. He faces the worst kind of corruption, violence, religious hypocrisy and brutality, but through it all he hangs on to hope. Hope is the theme and Hope is the final word. In the midst of a world of stone, Andy retains a heart of hope.

Top moment? Apart from the overwhelming relief of the twist ending, it’s when Andy locks himself in the warden’s office and plays a duet from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, then decides to broadcast the music across the prison’s tannoy. The hardened prisoners’ faces light up with wonder and innocent joy. It’s unforgettable.

I’m sure that scene will go down as one of the greatest moments in cinema. It not only captures the theme of the whole film in one delicious, everlasting grin of a moment, but it also conveys the inexpressible beauty, poignancy and redemptive quality of music for all humanity. More than that, it communicates the theme of hope in a way beyond words.

“I hope the Pacific will be as blue as I think it will be…
I hope I will see my friend again…
I hope to take him by the hand…
I hope.”

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  • Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.This inscription lies above the gates of Hell from Dante’s Inferno.Hope is such an important thing. When hope is lost, all is lost too. Hope is the reason the world goes round, the great motivator.Even during the Fall, God gave hope to Adam and Eve in the protoevangelium. And throughout the long years of exile, it was hope, the hope spoken by the prophets of a Savior, that motivated the people of Israel.Today, it is still hope, the hope of things unseen that bear us up when things are down.Thanks, Father for reminding us about this most important virtue when so many things seem to be against us.

  • I’ve still not seen The Shawshank Redemption, but I would like to. Thanks for writing this, Father.

  • It’s also one of the few Stephen King novels-to-movies that sticks quite close to the author’s original story. It’s almost like he knew it would be made into a film and wrote a novella that lent itself to screenplay.

  • Jon

    I really like this movie as well. A well done artistic expression of why Hope is one of the theological virtues.I found your blog last month and have really enjoyed it. As a fan of Chesterton, I appreciate your blog title. 🙂

  • DGus

    If not my absolute favorite, then another truly great film–all the greater because its virtue is so surprising–is “Groundhog Day.”

  • Actually, I think that Andy did murder his wife, but I can’t remember exactly. I read both the book (Stephen King, for those who are unaware), and I’ve seen the movie numerous times. If I remember correctly, Andy wryly admits that he’s the only guilty person in the entire prison. Or do I have his character confused with another?

  • “The term “tannoy” in colloquial British English is used generically to mean any public-address system, and although the word is a registered trademark, it has become a genericised trademark.”Oh…I didn’t know that.