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phoenix confidential


The Shawshank Redemption


Get busy living or get buy dying.

That's damn right.

It's a testament to the near perfect nature of this film that I am posting about it at all.  In fact this is the 3rd entry about it that I have written, mainly because each previous version was lost to bugs in the software, and just plain old human stupidity (specifically mine, of course,) or as I choose to call it at the moment, fate. I keep accidently erasing the entry before I can publish it. Still, I keep perservering because this truly is a must see film, and not just because they air it in TNT all the time because Ted Turner got the rights cheap.

I'm convinced that this film, along with Scarface, The Godfather, The Usual Suspects, Pulp Fiction and Bond Films, is the male equivalent of the chick flick. I have yet to date a guy, and that includes the ones that didn't go to film school, who won't sit through this film like it's the holy grail.  Considering this is a film that runs a ridiculous length of time, features gay rape, opera, library scenes, and almost no women, that's sayong a thing or two. I'm surprised any guy can even sit politely through it. Then again, I'm not sure I'd like a guy who didn't love this film.

It's easy to see why this film is so popular, both with men and women, (and again, not because they show it all the time).

The thing is, if you've ever felt maltreated, isolated, misunderstood and wrongly persecuted, you'll identify with the characters in this story. 

Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.

Man I wish they'd put that on the poster.  Maybe someone would have actually seen this movie when it was in theatres.  As it was, I remember specifically staying away because of the title and the strange self-righteous ad campaign that was attached to the film. I can only imagine that someone got fired, because with proper marketing this could have been a hit much sooner. I just don't see how they didn't maiximize the potential.

For starters, they could have really ttried to catapult Tim Robbins, fresh off an 8-year string of hits starting with Top Gun, to swoony leading man status. They could have exploited his terrific chemistry with Morgan Freeman and flooded the ads with Morgan Freeman's smooth interpretation of so many lines, like the unchanged "Maybe it's because I'm Irish", when the part was written for a white character. Or this line:

I like to think that the last thing that went through his head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the hell Andy Dufresne ever got the better of him.

Then, hindsight is, well, you know.

Speaking of characters, with Clancy Brown, Bob Gunton, Gil Bellows, William Sadler and my favorite Spencer Tracy -lookalike James Whitmore it's also like a collection of Hey it's that Guy's. (I hope the upcoming HITG book is less lazy that the recent entries have seemed. </disgruntled fan>)

For such a long film, it's surprisingly low on filler and moments that beg you to reach for the remote. For as many times as I have already seen it, whenever I catch it while I channel-surf, I almost always stop to watch it all.  Even with commercials.  (I know it so well, the commercials just allow me to multitask.)

In the end, it's about hope. Which as Andy Dufresne so wisely says, like his fellow ex-jailbird Martha, it's a good thing.  And as Red says:

I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.  I hope...

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