The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
December 29, 2017 7:39 PM - Subscribe

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. Based on a book by Stephen King.

Released in 1994, Shawshank was a dud at the Box Office after grossing only $16M (on a production budget of $25M). But it went on the be one of the top rented movies of 1995 following 7 Oscars noms (and no wins.), and today it is considered one of Darabont's best, while King calls it his favorite adaptation.

15 Things You May Not Have Know about Shawshank

The Little-Known Story of How The Shawshank Redemption Became One of the Most Beloved Films of All Time
posted by Frayed Knot (33 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Surprised to find Fanfare didn't have an entry for this one!

It's #1 on my personal list and I love every second. For me (and I don't think I'm alone on this) it's Red's redemption that really strikes a cord. His arc from old cynic to Andy's friend is a joy, and seeing Red on the beach in the last shot never fails to put a smile on my face. I still hope to visit Zihuatanejo some day.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:46 PM on December 29, 2017 [4 favorites]


Everyone's ex boyfriend's favorite movie.
posted by phunniemee at 6:15 AM on December 30, 2017 [15 favorites]


This is one of those movies that I should have seen before hearing everyone tell me what a great film it was for twenty years. I finally caught up with it last year and liked it OK but it wasn't the great masterpiece that I'd heard about.
posted by octothorpe at 8:06 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


My favorite thing about this movie is how Todd and Melissa re-enact the dialogue to one another on Last Man on Earth. Todd's Morgan Freeman is uncanny.
posted by ian1977 at 8:32 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


A few years ago I watched this movie with my mom at her house, the first time for her, and she dozed off for quite a while in the middle. When she woke up at the very end she said, "So the warden took the new evidence and set him free? Great!"
posted by telegraph at 2:34 PM on December 30, 2017 [7 favorites]


It's a good redemption/prison flick, but a bit schlocky for my tastes. And it's always on cable, so you can catch it if you feel the need.
posted by Sphinx at 4:01 PM on December 30, 2017


a bit schlocky

How could a prison/buddy movie with the word “redemption” in the title be anything else? But it was also ambitious and unpretentious at the same time.
posted by skewed at 8:39 PM on December 30, 2017 [4 favorites]


Much of it was shot in and around Mansfield, Ohio; primarily at the Ohio State Reformatory which was itself redeemed by the film. It was slated for demolition but since the movie rose to fame, an industry rose up around it and there are now all sorts of events, from ghost tours to 5K runs. To see the facade rising through the fog of a creepy Ohio morning is quite an experience.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 11:06 AM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


SPOILER: PLACE HAND OVER COMMENT WHILE SCROLLING

I waited a long time to see this, and just before I did it was spoiled for me in the most spectacular way, and also taught me never to talk about movies I'm about to see. "You really haven't seen it before? It's the best escape movie!" So, I went in with that and still the movie was a good one, which says something. If it hadn't been spoiled it might have been one of my favorites (at the time, before overexposure).

I don't think they go over this movie much in it, but for general interest there's a great episode of Jon Favreau's Dinner For Five with Frank Darabont.
posted by rhizome at 11:38 AM on December 31, 2017


In 1982, Stephen King published "Different Seasons," a collection of four novellas.

"Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption," "Apt Pupil," "The Body," and "Breathing Lessons" became Frank Darabont's 1994 "The Shawshank Redemption," Bryan Singer's 1998 "Apt Pupil," and Rob Reiner's 1986 "Stand by Me." "Breathing Lessons" was optioned for a television series, but never produced.

Are "Shawshank Redemption" and "Stand by Me" the two best King adaptions? They have to be in the running.
posted by Marky at 4:16 PM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


Stephen King is at his best when not writing Horror.
posted by el io at 4:19 PM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


Judging by Running Man, Steven King is at his best when he's not writing horror and not Steven King.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:42 PM on December 31, 2017 [3 favorites]


"Breathing Lessons" was optioned for a television series, but never produced.

The Breathing Method ends with a pregnant woman giving birth after being decapitated, while the doctor gives instructions to her severed head which still controls her body. I'm surprised it was even optioned, but I suspect someone bought it on the strength of the other three and figured they'd be able to do something with the fourth.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:19 PM on December 31, 2017 [4 favorites]


Breathing Method has a framing story of IIRC retired detectives in one of those old school men's clubs puffing on pipes and taking turns at "let me tell you about my most insane case", which has series potential, although I grant you getting the original on even cable TV in the 80s seems like a long shot.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:14 PM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


Kind of, but stranger: The Breathing Method's framing is a monthly spooky-true-tale-telling at a gentleman's club; a club that has distinctly other-worldly undertones which are hinted at by the story without ever explaining them. It'd make a great framework for an anthology TV series.

I always kinda wished that King had written more stories within that setting, but I guess ultimately it wasn't an itch he needed to scratch.

Anyway:

seeing Red on the beach in the last shot never fails to put a smile on my face

I always feel like that's one closure too far; that it'd be better to end it on Red's "I hope I make it across the border" speech, leaving the ending somewhat ambiguous, as Darabont had originally intended.

Stephen King is at his best when not writing Horror.

I'm not sure I'd argue that Shawshank isn't horror just because it doesn't contain boogymen or buckets of blood. The horror of false imprisonment; the horror of small mens' tyranny; the horror of institutionalization, which Brooks falls victim to and which Red fears most of all.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:22 AM on January 1 [10 favorites]


15. The Tree Where Red Finds Andy’s letter isn’t in Fort Hancock, Texas

Considering the movie explicitly says the tree is in a Maine cornfield (and Red goes to the tree before he leaves for Texas), I'm at a loss as to why anyone would think the tree was in Fort Hancock.
..........................

One thing that always puzzled me (I haven't read the novella)...Where in the hell did Andy go to get himself totally clean and spit-shined after crawling through the sewer line? Did he just happen to break into an abandoned home with hot running water and an iron?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:28 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]


~ seeing Red on the beach in the last shot never fails to put a smile on my face

~ I always feel like that's one closure too far; that it'd be better to end it on Red's "I hope I make it across the border" speech, leaving the ending somewhat ambiguous, as Darabont had originally intended.


The way that final scene on the beach is shot, it almost comes off as a dream/fantasy. Bright, sunny colors and a perfect, completely empty beach save for Andy and Red. It's almost as if Red has dozed-off on the bus and is dreaming.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:40 AM on January 1 [10 favorites]


Thorzdad... this is my all time favorite movie and your translation of the end is the same as mine.... bright colors, hot, bright sun... so removed from the rest of the film.... is it a dream? A hope? Did it happen? That’s always what I have thought...
posted by pearlybob at 10:43 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Where in the hell did Andy go to get himself totally clean and spit-shined after crawling through the sewer line? Did he just happen to break into an abandoned home with hot running water and an iron?

I thought it was pretty clear that he'd stolen the wardens shoes (that he'd polished) and his suit (that he'd been taking for cleaning and pressing - "too much starch on the collar.") When you see Andy crawling through the sewer he's got a plastic bag tied around his middle that he drags along with him. I think the narration mentions finding nothing of Andy except a bar of soap and the hammer.

I think I've seen this movie too many times.
posted by Start with Dessert at 2:34 AM on January 2 [5 favorites]


When you see Andy crawling through the sewer he's got a plastic bag tied around his middle that he drags along with him. I think the narration mentions finding nothing of Andy except a bar of soap and the hammer.

Right. I get the clothes part. But, the guy just crawled through 500 yards of human waste. That's not something you can just wash off in a stream with a bar of soap. Assuming he stopped in the stream long enough to wash. He's on the run, afterall.

I've seen it too many times, too, and am wayyyyy overthinking it.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:49 AM on January 2


But, the guy just crawled through 500 yards of human waste. That's not something you can just wash off in a stream with a bar of soap.

It was raining also though, what do you think a shower is?
posted by phunniemee at 8:01 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


When I was a teenager (before the film was made) I wrote Stephen King a letter: When Andy escapes through the hole in the wall behind the poster, how does he attach the poster back to the wall behind him?

I got back a pre-printed 'form letter' kind of postcard, a generic thing that said something like 'thanks for writing, unfortunately I don't have time to both write books and answer my mail individually so here's a form response, sorry about that.'

However, typed at the bottom was an individual response to the effect of, someone always finds a mistake in everything I write; I say just let it go and enjoy the story! There was a typo, which always made me believe that the man himself jammed a postcard in his typewriter and sent me that note himself. I'm sure it's lost and discarded among my teen stuff years ago, along with my nice letter from Virginia Heinlein and my autographed picture of Leonard Nimoy. :-)
posted by Occula at 9:19 AM on January 2 [10 favorites]


This movie lurches back and forth between brilliance and bathos but fortunately it's long enough that you can settle in for the good stretches and forget about the bad ones.
posted by praemunire at 10:51 AM on January 2


When Andy escapes through the hole in the wall behind the poster, how does he attach the poster back to the wall behind him?

Attach poster at the top corners, put tape on wall at bottom corners positions, get under the poster like it was a curtain, climb into hole, poster drops into place.
STOP WASTING STEPHEN'S TIME YOU'RE PROBABLY WHY WE DON'T HAVE UNDER THE DOME 2: THE DOMENING YET
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:26 PM on January 2 [9 favorites]


I WAS YOUNG also I don't think it would stick so well what with the sewer-y breeze and all but you do you
posted by Occula at 7:37 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Everyone's ex boyfriend's favorite movie.

Really, does it have that reputation?

Honestly, I would give it to Fight Club, but maybe that's for a younger cohort.
posted by FJT at 10:54 AM on January 3


(Previously on MetaFilter.)

Between working in a theater when the film first came out and it being on cable 24/7 through the late 90s and aughts, I have probably watched this film more than any other. Even if it doesn't live up to the "OMG best film evar you have to watch it" hype that some people lay on it, it's simply a damned solid piece of filmmaking in pretty much every respect, which I think accounts for its high rewatchability factor.

I just realized it's been 2-3 years since I last saw it. I think I'm due for a rewatch.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 11:27 AM on January 4


Here's something I've never understood, and which maybe you all can explain for me.

How is it that The Shawshank Redemption (distributed by Columbia Pictures) ended up using the soundtrack for Miller's Crossing (20th Century Fox) in the trailer?

I mean that's not a common tune or anything, that's something that Carter Burwell himself composed specifically for the Coens. It was released on Varèse Sarabande / Universal Music Group, whereas the true film soundtrack that accompanied Shawshank when it hit theaters was scored by Thomas Newman and released by Sony BMG.

Do the people that cut together trailers just ... grab whatever music pleases them and pay the rights to use it for two minutes but not in the final cut of the movie? What's up with that?

[when I first heard that tune in the trailer for a split second I thought, jokingly, "Maybe Roger Deakins brought it with him" until I remembered that Deakins didn't shoot Miller's Crossing, Sonnenfeld did.]
posted by komara at 12:17 PM on January 4


Do the people that cut together trailers just ... grab whatever music pleases them and pay the rights to use it for two minutes but not in the final cut of the movie? What's up with that?

Scoring a movie happens late in post-production of a movie. Trailers get cut by studio marketing departments, way early in production, especially if it's a teaser trailer. So, yeah, the people who make trailers pick whatever they think will work best, and use them often.
posted by oh yeah! at 1:09 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Wow that is a terrible trailer.
posted by skewed at 8:00 PM on January 4


Everyone's ex boyfriend's favorite movie.

Really, does it have that reputation?


The movie came out when I was in college, and it became sort of a cult item for the guys in my dorm thanks to home video and ubiquitous TV airings over the next couple of years. Which is not to say that it's not deserved or that it's not a fine movie, but that for guys who came of age in the '90s or maybe a bit later it had a certain relatable cachet, and was something for guys to bond over.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:28 AM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Everyone's ex boyfriend's favorite movie.
Really, does it have that reputation?


There is a Certain Type of Man who is only allowed to show vulnerability and emotion in the Big 5 situations:
-sports
-movies about sports
-birth of first child
-minor injury or illness
-death of golden retriever or labrador
Those men all love The Shawshank Redemption. It's a movie about men sharing time with other men that goes out of its way to show that the men you're rooting for are definitely not gay. It's 140 minutes of safe space for that type of guy to feel feelings.

It's a perfectly fine movie, and the people who love it are not bad people, but in my experience this movie being someone's favorite movie is a pretty good signifier that they have specific ideas about How Men Should Be and will probably struggle to engage with you emotionally.
posted by phunniemee at 9:46 AM on January 5 [6 favorites]


phunniemee, I want to flag your comment as fantastic. I just watched this for the first time last night, after years of resistance to it based on what I knew of Shawshank superfans. Exactly the type of masculinity you describe, right down to the breed of dog that will prompt the tears.

And it's a good movie! But there is a very fine line between getting us all to agree that sexual assault is bad (true) and beautiful women are nice to look at (also true), and the fact that they really, really don't want you to think the hero is gay.

And another thing: one reason why the prison rape trope is so obnoxious is because it draws out a horror in men that rarely comes out otherwise. Fearing rape in that very specific circumstance almost seems luxurious compared to what many women and LGBT folks experience all day, every day. And, when this happens in TV and film, the victim is often the butt of some joke, some dig at their masculinity and agency. It's cruel and gross.

Anyway, after all the hype, it was mostly enjoyable to watch. But I guessed correctly that prison rape would figure in pretty early and, welp, I was right.
posted by witchen at 2:17 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


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