On Demand Spotlight – The Shawshank Redemption
One of our most popular On Demand movies is the modern classic, The Shawshank Redemption.
Way back in 1995, when Forrest Gump picked up the Best Picture Oscar, many (rightfully) complained that Pulp Fiction was a better film. But we think that Shawshank is better than them both.
It was originally a short story, first appearing in a Stephen King collection called Different Seasons. Each short story had a seasonal theme, and Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption was the “spring” story, with the subtitle “hope springs eternal”.
Despite mostly taking place in a brutal prison, this is indeed a story about hope. Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is a mild-mannered banker accused of killing his wife and her lover. Morgan Freeman plays Red, the straight-talking, contraband-smuggling prisoner with whom Dufresne begins an unlikely friendship.
Dufresne faces adversity from the moment he sets foot in Shawshank: brutalised by sadistic guards, a corrupt warden and other inmates, and faced with the possibility of decades within the grey concrete of the prison.
But hope can spring in the strangest of places. Dufresne learns to adapt, finding beauty in music and literature, working the system to his benefit, helping other prisoners and daring to dream of a life beyond Shawshank.
Director Frank Darabont (who went on to co-create The Walking Dead) crafted a beautiful, cinematic film here. It’s shot in an elegant, understated style, and he fills the story with memorable characters (sweet and sinister). Legendary composer Thomas Newman (American Beauty, and more recently Passengers) fills the score with sweet piano chords and romantic strings.
A number of movie stars considered appearing in Shawshank, from Tom Cruise to Nicholas Cage, but we’re glad that the filmmakers chose (then) relative unknowns Robbins and Freeman. Robbins has an appealing, subtle manner that suits his character and the film, while Freeman has the presence and street smarts that fit Red perfectly.
Fun fact: The character of Red was written as a ginger Irishman, and even when Freeman was cast they kept the line about why he got his name: “Maybe it’s because I’m Irish,” he says, with a sly grin.
For information on how to watch The Shawshank Redemption, and hundreds of other movies, click here.
When’s the last time you watched this classic?
Take another look at a modern masterpiece on On Demand.
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