Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Top 10 #3: Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption shares the top spot on the IMDB top 250 with The Godfather, so I know I'm not alone in loving this movie.  I remember the year it came out, watching the Oscars and wondering whether this odd movie about a Chinese prison could possibly be good.  Yes, the red text/poster, a buttoned up Tim Robbins on the poster, and the strange word Shawshank made me think this movie took place in China.  Given that the word Shawshank is so broadly known now, I find it surprising I was so oblivious.  But that's what happened in the pre-internet era - your misconceptions had no easy outlet for correction.

There are a lot of reasons this movie shouldn't work - it takes place in a prison; there is a fair amount of violence, much of it sexual; the movie relies heavily on narration for exposition, and there isn't a single woman in the named cast.  However, the narration is the best example of the technique out there.  The violence is the least memorable part of the film.  And the prison characters set up a wonderful story with built in back-stories.  Turns out everything that might have been going against it really works in its favor.

I have trouble believing that anyone who reads this blog hasn't seen this movie so I won't summarize the plot at all, and instead give you my top 5 moments:

5. When Red carves "So was Red" into the beam where Brooks wrote "Brooks was here".  The Red heads out on his adventure, choosing life.

4. Red's 2 different parole hearings.  One where he tells them what they want to hear and one where he tells them what he actually thinks.

3. Andy's explanation to Captain Hadley about how he can keep an inheritance by giving it to his wife and then asking for beer for his friends because "A man working outdoors feels more like a man if he can have a bottle of suds."

2. Andy's explanation of where Red can find a rock at the end of a long rock wall.

1.  Red's speech explaining what Andy did to actually get free.  "He crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side"

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