Combustible Celluloid
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With: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, Mark Rolston, James Whitmore, Jeffrey DeMunn, Larry Brandenburg, Neil Giuntoli, Brian Libby, David Proval, Joseph Ragno, Jude Ciccolella
Written by: Frank Darabont, based on a story by Stephen King
Directed by: Frank Darabont
MPAA Rating: R for language and prison violence
Running Time: 142
Date: 09/09/1994

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Remembering Rita Hayworth

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After penning the horror films A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), The Blob (1988), The Fly II (1989) and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), screenwriter Frank Darabont cleverly made his directorial debut with a Stephen King story ("Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption"). But, rather than another horror film, he chose this strangely uplifting story about prisoners.

Tim Robbins stars as Andy Dufresne, a man wrongly accused of murder and thrown in Shawshank, where he meets Red (Morgan Freeman), the man who can get anything. Rather than getting to know him on his own terms, we see Andy through Red's eyes and we see a man at peace with himself. With the patience of a saint he slowly unfolds his secret plan over the course of decades. (His plan involves a tiny rock hammer and a poster of Rita Hayworth.)

One of the film's best scenes has the inmates watching Gilda (1946). We see an enraptured Morgan Freeman shushing his companion and saying, "This is where she does that s--- with her hair."

Boasting gorgeous cinematography by Roger Deakins, The Shawshank Redemption sprawls out over a leisurely 142 minutes, operating with the same unflagging patience of its protagonist. Darabont plays several Capra-like cards and gives the movie a spiritual heft rather than a suspenseful one. That could explain how it has become a cult phenomenon years after its release, eventually ranking in the top ten on the Internet Movie Database's ongoing movie poll. Although its box office was only middling, the movie was fairly well received by critics in its time, and earned several Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

The Shawshank Redemption is being re-released in theaters for its tenth anniversary, and a new DVD will follow.

The older, 1999 disc contains talent files, production photos and a trailer, but the 2005 two-disc 10th anniversary edition from Warner Bros. comes with a director's commentary track, DVD-Rom features, the Charlie Rose interview with Darabont, Freeman and Robbins, 2 documentaries, a spoof ("The Shark Tank Redemption"), a photo gallery, storyboards and a theatrical trailer.

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