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Andy (Tim Robbins) is a prominent banker unjustly convicted of murder, who spends many years in the Shawshank prison. He is befriended by Red (Morgan Freeman), a convict who knows the ropes and helps him to cope with the frightening realities of prison life.

Review by Louise Keller:
I love this film. It's one of those films that deserves pride of place in any DVD library and warrants repeated viewing. Frank Darabond's superb script (based on a Stephen King short story) is economical and involving and this, his directing debut, delivers a classic drama about two convicted criminals who forge an unforgettable friendship. It's a story about hope and dreams and one whose emotional impact is as great as the Pacific Ocean is blue.

In the first few scenes, we are given a snapshot of the dire situation in which Tim Robbins' bank Vice President Andy finds himself, when he is convicted of murdering his adulterous wife and her golf-pro lover. We also meet Morgan Freeman's Red, a convicted murderer who has been incarcerated for the past 20 years. Red is a man who can get things (cigarettes, reefer, brandy or pretty much anything anyone wants) and has no illusions about his regularly rejected parole applications ('same old shit; different date'). He is resigned to the never-ending, unbending, cruel prison life under Bob Gunton's bible-loving, callous Warden Norton. The story begins in 1947 but spans many years as Andy finds a niche within the prison walls, making himself useful to the Warden and guards by providing 'sound financial planning' (channelling, filtering and laundering their ill-gotten gains).

Freeman's narrative holds the story together and like a skilled conductor, waves a baton to orchestrate our emotions. Red is the only crim who admits to his crime. 'Everyone else is innocent,' they declare with a smile. Baby-faced Robbins is excellent as the softly spoken newcomer with a love for geology and books and who asks for a rock hammer and a poster of Rita Hayworth. There are many memorable scenes like the one when Andy puts Italian opera onto the turntable and lets the music play all through the prison. It was like some beautiful bird, muses Red. Every last man felt free. Even his punishment in the hole does not dampen his spirits. After all, he had Mozart to keep him company - in his heart and in his head. There's another key scene as Andy and Red sit in the prison yard by a stone wall and dream about a place in Mexico by the Pacific Ocean which has no memory. Full of heart and guaranteed to stick in your memory forever, this is a treasure of a film that everyone should see.

The two-disc DVD release includes an audio commentary, storyboards, still gallery, Charlie Rose Show with Frank Darabond and Morgan Freeman, plus a handful of featurettes.

Published March 5, 2009

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(US, 1994)

CAST: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows

PRODUCER: Niki Marvin

DIRECTOR: Frank Darabont

SCRIPT: Frank Darabont (short story by Stephen King)


EDITOR: Richard Francis-Bruce

MUSIC: Thomas Newman


RUNNING TIME: 142 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary ; Featurette: New Fish Arrive; Bogs Takes Fall ; Other: A Look Back at The Shawshank Redemption; Shawshank: The Redeeming Feature; Charlie Rose Show with Frank Darabond and Morgan Freeman; The Sharktank Redemption; Still Gallery and Storyboards; Theatrical Trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: March 4, 2009

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