Warden Samuel Norton: I believe in two things: discipline and the Bible. Here you’ll receive both. Put your trust in the Lord; your ass belongs to me. Welcome to Shawshank.
Well, Warden Samuel Norton, I believe in two things: Morgan Freeman’s acting chops and Greg the Bunny appearances featuring you, Warden, as Junction Jack (psst…he’s in the red shirt and overalls at the beginning…and the green dress at almost the 4 minute mark). Here you’ll receive both. Put your trust in me; your evil ass belongs to me. Welcome to The Rankatron.
Watching the Shawshank Redemption reminded me that Stephen King is good at two things of his own: Horror novels up until right before Gerald’s Game, and prison movies. Perhaps because Stephen King never made a cameo like he does in many of his other movies. Am I insinuating a co-relation? No. But it’s an interesting coincidence.
What stands out is that this movie, unlike any other in its genre, captures the subtle interplay of prison society. However, having never been in prison, I can’t confirm how accurate this is but movies and TV have never lied to me, right? RIGHT?
You can’t imagine Red being played by anyone other than Morgan Freeman. Or Tim Robbins as Andy (even though Tom Hanks would’ve been interesting choice, his star power at the time might’ve stolen away from what the two brought to the table). And Bob Gunton as Warden Norton ranks him up there as one of the most evil characters to have ever graced the silver screen.
The minor wrinkles in the film are lost and forgotten behind a tapestry of brilliant story and twisting plots. No movie is 100% perfect but if you’re in charge of continuity, be certain you make sure of during the music scene that the man getting out of bed in the hospital room isn’t the same man you pan to about 30 seconds later in the courtyard…even if he looks good.
But who’d really notice in that scene…and who really cares?
The Shawshank Redemption is more than a prison story about survival and hope. It is a story about how we can all be victims of our surroundings if we allow ourselves to be. Andy Dufresne refused to allow the prison to get to him despite everything that happens to dissuade him otherwise. He rose up above the masses as a means of survival and eventually became an inspiration to everyone. Especially Red, the seasoned criminal, who wouldn’t have made it without Andy.
Andy and Red are two characters inseparable and shall forever be intertwined like Abbott and Costello, Lucy and Desi, Bert and Ernie or Locke and Jack. They all needed each other whether they truly believed it or not.
The ending (no spoilers here) remains one of the best twists in cinematic history and it holds up to multiple viewings (unlike…say “The Sixth Sense”).
The hardest thing about ranking this movie is that with so many to come, it’s difficult to give it a perfect 10. But I’ll grade on a curve and I reserve the right to adjust after the list is completed.
For those of you who haven’t gotten to know Andy or Red, watch this clip:
To quote Andy from that clip, “Get busy living or get busy dying” and get busy watching this movie.