I struggle to know where to begin when trying to write a review of this film. The 1994 Frank Darabont film has gone down in history as a classic, despite initially not making as much money as some other films of the same year (Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump etc). This film is now wildly popular and I can COMPLETELY see why, it’s one of my favourites.
I love this film for so many reasons, one of which being my slightly strange morbid curiosity about prisons. It’s directed effectively, the narrative is strong and progresses the plot nicely, the casting is brilliant and, let’s not forget, the film is based on an incredible and gripping story by Stephen King.
I’ll start by saying if you have not seen this film and are interested in movies or the history of film at all GO WATCH THIS NOW (it’s on Netflix so you have no excuse). Seriously, I wish I’d seen it sooner. I feel like it’s the kind of film I could put right back to the start as soon as the credits start rolling and watch all over again.
Frank Darabont’s direction is excellent, he really captures what the microcosmic society of a prison is like and what day to day life can be like for inmates with different positions within the system. Not only this but Darabont forces viewers to empathise with protagonist Andy Dufresne in his most harrowing moments, whether they want to or not. An example of this is the tunnel scene towards the end of the film.
The camera is positioned inside of the tunnel opposite Dufresne. This really emphasizes the claustrophobia, desperation and panic of the situation and, personally, made me feel super on edge!
Another triumph of this film is the casting of Morgan Freeman as ‘Red’. Red narrates the film allowing the plot to progress just at the right speed. The fact that the story is told from a perspective other than Dufresne himself is effective in many ways but most of all because it protects the climax of the film which is, consequently, pretty shocking and exhilarating to watch as a viewer. Obviously, a large portion of credit for this goes to Stephen King, but Morgan Freeman’s performance achieves, in my opinion, a very difficult thing. It manages to be down to earth yet poignant and affecting at the same time. I can’t imagine anybody else being able to strike this balance so well.
I’ve heard people argue over whether the final scene of the film needed to be included or not. Whether is was effective or unnecessary. For me personally I found that final scene incredibly gratifying, and if it wasn’t shown I would definitely feel like I was missing out. So it’s just another positive really!
For me what elevates this film above the norm is its nuance. It hits the mark for me emotionally at every turn. It’s heart warming and devastating and awe inspiring all at once and isn’t that really what films are all about? Plus there’s just nothing like a great story of friendship 🙂
Hope you enjoyed this little review!
Until next time,