Saturday, 25 August 2007

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - Review

Ireally don't know how I didn't see this movie which released in 1994 till I had the oppurtunity last night.

"Some birds are not meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"

The words resounded not just through my mind and ears but through my soul as the end credits rolled and I had the experience of a lifetime as the movie came to an end.

The last place one would imagine to find hope would be a prison. Moreover, the last movie in which one would expect to find hope is a prison movie. However, in "The Shawshank Redemption", hope is exactly what we get.

"The Shawshank Redemption" is the story of Andy Dufresne ( played sensitively by Tim Robbins) - a big shot banker who is sent to gallows of Shawshank Prison after being falsely implicated in the murder of his unfaithful wife and her boyfriend. Andy leaves behind a world of champagne, chiffon and grief (owing to his darling wife’s murder and his implication) to enter another world of grief minus the chiffon and champagne. Shawshank Prison is a hopeless hell - dark, frigid, ruthless with gallons of devilry and pinches of sunshine humanity. Shawshank is one of the most hellish prisons run by a bunch of uniformed devils who see no difference between criminals and dead cattle. And the reins of this living hell are held in the hands of Warden Norton - who lives by the Holy Bible but is in love with the devil. And here comes Andy Dufrsene - a living dead with a genius mind and a loving heart.

The journey of Andy is seen through the eyes of Red (The irrepressible and ever dependable Morgan Freeman) - another prisoner at Shawshank who is a happy-go-lucky cad, somebody who has hardened himself to the cold walls of Shawshank and lives by the rules. For him, Andy is a paradox he can never fathom or understand. Andy’s mysterious charm, his enigmatic persona and the light of humanity that he sees in Andy’s straight expressionless face first intrigues him, then fascinates him and finally bonds him to this abysmal man.

Andy first settles into the Shawshank Prison after a few harsh brushes with the guards like Captain Hadley, the devil in robes Warden Norton, the gay "sisterhood" molestors and many other hurdles .....slowly his genius and intelligence at finances wins over the jail authorities and his sunshine human touch stirs up something inside every frigid criminal ....Andy makes his own place - both in the jail and in Red’s heart.......And one fine day , after more than ninteen years in the prison, triggered by the cold murder of a harmless small-time cad Tommy (of whom Andy had grown increasingly fond of) by the guards, Andy ESCAPES Shawshank through a vent he made behind Rita Hayworth’s poster for two decades )- making sure that after he is gone, the corrupt warden and his gang is taken off Shawshank so that the prisoners can at least live wih dignity ....and that Red finds his way to Andy upon his release.....

More than the plot, the story - it’s the soul of the film , soul-stirring moments and the enigmatic characters who dissolve in you when you watch the film. The film makes you want to believe on whatever Andy believed in ....and you know what he believed in and what kept him sailing throgh those ninteen agonizing years ?....HOPE.....Andy soon learnt that if there’s one thing inside all of us that nobody can take away from us, then it’s hope ... the hope for tomorrow , the hope for realizing the most distant dreams and the hope of survival. All through the hellish time at Shawshank that Andy was getting beaten up and bullied, maintaining accounts for corrupt Shawshank officials (which he used to expose them), making library records, instilling hope and light in dead minds and hearts - he was actually getting nearer to his dream of garnering freedom, of living his dream life one fine day fishing by the vast blue sea.....and when that chance was taken away from him by the Shawshank officials (they killed Tommy whose testimony could have released Andy of the charges for their own ulterior motives), he takes his own flight to freedom and stands against the rain and screams -the scream of a free-being.....

Shawshank Redemption can be termed motivational....inspirational....and all those adjectives that refer to optimism . But more than that it’s a lesson of life that Frank Darrabont has put forth for the viewers the darkest hour, there’s promise of light and believing in that promise is what hope is all about. If there’s one thing that keeps all of us alive , then it’s hope....a hope for a better tomorrow. The film reminds you that heaven and hell are inside us - watch Andy Dufrsene create his own heaven in the cold hell of Shawshank and make his fellow prisoners a part of his little paradise. Andy defines the power of human spirit .....Red defines the margins between good and bad how much all of us yearn to return to our innocence (Red might be a old criminal but his heart still beats for innocence).....Above all, Shawshank Redemption instils in you the age old faith - Salvation lies within.......

Enough said, the film is an experience to be lived and savoured.

Here are a few of my favourite moments from the film ....Do look out for them :

1. Andy saying , "Hope is a good thing , perhaps the best of all things.... and good things don’t die."

2. Andy playing music in Warden Norton’s office. The music reaches the ears and hearts of all prison inmates and they all stand still in that moment of heavenly bliss.

3. Red sitting in front of the jury for his release and telling the young officials that he has learnt what he had to and frankly he doesn’t give a damn about being released or being retained in prison.

4. Old Brooks writing on a ceiling "Brooks was here " and hanging himself to death. His old age, his helplessness was so moving!

5. Red and Andy meeting against the blue sea in the end.....their souls blowing in the winds of freedom

And guys, Red’s words are echoing wisdom. "Get busy living or get busy dying"

The screenplay is full of moving and beautifully etched scenes threaded together meticulously into a fabulous film....the cinematography is all charcoal and sunshine and in this contrast lies the beauty of the film. All performers are classic, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman of course take the cake. All in all, Shawshank Redemption made me believe in the paradise within and the promise of hope.

This review has been written to share what the film made me feel and if in the attempt of the same I have missed out some details, fogive me.

Spes Somes!

No comments:

Post a Comment