What are the essentials of a "good" movie? The wide range of emotions the movie evokes from the viewer? A plot that grasps the viewer with an iron fist? Characters so vivid and complex that they make the viewer feel like cheering when they succeed and crying when they fail? Finally we have come face-to-face with a movie paramount to all others, a movie which combines powerful emotion with a plot both simple and complex. And that movie is The Shawshank Redemption.
Based on the short story by Stephen King, and unlike anything written by him, the movie opens with the conviction of a man who may (or may not) have killed his wife and her lover. Tim Robbins gives what should be an Oscar-winning performance as Andy Dufresne, the man sentenced to serve two back-to-back life sentences at Shawshank State Prison. Morgan Freeman, who may be the best actor of '90s, plays Red, the narrator and the one true friend of Andy at the prison.
Set in 1946, the movie spans two decades and gives the most accurate view to date of what prison life is like. The perfection of the film is based not only on the characters (of which the minor ones play a major role and are marked by superior acting), but also on the plot which places Andy in a physical and psychological battle against the evils of prison.
Be forewarned: There are scenes of suicide, implied rape, and strong emotional trauma that make this movie tough to watch at points. But it is one that is important to see and extremely enjoyable, and its plot twists provide for some of the most unexpected surprises you'll ever see in a movie. This was the best movie I've ever watched, and one of the few worth every penny of the price and then some. I strongly recommend it! .
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.