Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Top Ten Movies of All Time

Number 5:

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Directed by:  Frank Darabont

Starring:  Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman

Oscars (winners in bold):  7 Nominations - Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Best Picture, Best Sound, Best Adapted Screenplay

Ranking on AFI's 100 Greatest Movie List (2007):  72 

Review:  Most people don't realize but this is based on a novella by Stephen King and is prime example of why, all things considered, King is my favorite author.  Most people focus on King's work for the supernatural and the horror, but where King actually suceeds the best is in writing indellible characters that seem real and people can relate to. 

This is something that is necessary to understand in order to fully appreciate Kings work. This is a prime example of the rich characters that King can create and, in the hands of a capable director, can be brought to life in film. 

This film is richly shot, well written, acted, and directed.  Frank Darabont was a relative newcomer when this was made but it is still regarded as his best film to this day.  The film uses hope as it's central theme showing that no matter what hand we are dealt with (falsely accused of murdering one's wife) or how many hardships we have along the way (an unruly warden, run-in's with the "sisters") that with hope we can persevere through everything.

The Shawshank Redemption shows us prison life in a realistic manner, a system of routine meant to prepare these fellows for their reentry to the outside world.  Before Tim Robbins' character Andy Dufresne comes into the prison, theres is little positivity in the bunch.  They have all lost all hope of ever being productive members of society again and realize they have nothing to look forward to but a 6x6 and woodshop.  They even bring up the idea of institutionalization.  Have they all been there so long that there is no way they can be productive members of society.  One of the crew that gets his ticket out even winds up killing himself because he can't handle life in the real world.

Life seems dismal in Shawshank until Dufresne shows up.  Dufresne comes in with the hope that he will one day make it out and get to live the life he has dreamed up.  His constant mantra is that hope is a powerful thing, something they can't take away from you, and something that will set you free.  It's a powerful message and is passed on through a powerful movie.

Why this made the list:

Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way.  Like all the others on this list, the acting, writing, and directing are all top notch and worthy of all the praise bestowed upon them. 

What makes this movie all the more incredible are the believability of the characters.  Each actor owns their role in this movie and are all cast perfectly.  The story is set up incredibly well and there is the aforementioned powerful message that goes along with the movie.

This is a trimphant movie that makes you feel good about the human condition and makes sure that we never forget that it's never too late to make things right, it's never too late to start anew, and it's never too late to hope, because it keeps us moving forward and it can never be taken away from you.

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