The greatest film ever made?


A quiet Friday night, not feeling great, nothing on tele but what I’ve already seen.  I don’t really want to watch Shawshank redemption again, not for the 1000th time, not until I switch it on and I’m hooked.

I’d forgotten – forgive me – just how wonderful it was. Just how completely uplifting it is. I’d forgotten the smile on Andy’s face as he stands free after crawling through the shit and rain..

I don’t get beaten up for asking questions and I don’t have to ask permission to go pee, but I still need that. We all need what Shawshank gives – a belief in a better man. Not a better world, but the chance, even if it is one solitary soul who might make us believe, to reshape the brutal muck around us.  Its about hope, and determination, a man who steadily –  like a rock hammer –  chips away at the system, undeterred no matter how long and how hard his task. And he isn’t just fighting for himself, but for his small corner, his people. Everyone needs that in their life.

As a film it actually relies on several techniques I’m especially not fond of. Two in particular ; – it spans a long period of time and it is narrated. I don’t like long meandering epics as a general rule and I believe narration should be left to books. Yet….I cannot imagine a better way to tell this film.  I cannot imagine it without the thoughtful voice of Red hypnotising me. I cannot imagine not living Andy’s hell with him, every small triumph, and greater despair, I cannot imagine not crawling through that tunnel with him. And if I hadn’t would I feel that smile as I do?

I won’t bore you with my theories on story though. This film transcends it, or it feels as though it does. It is a film about need and hope, which breaks down to purpose – a reason to get busy living. I have a friend – I use the term loosely – a man I know, who believes life is better without. That nothing we do matters and the sooner we embrace such an idea the happier we will be.

I cannot disagree more.

I am consumed by purpose, perhaps too much. Perhaps it doesn’t matter if you wear heels or trainers, but tell that to the owner of the toe that met the sharp end of your stiletto. What matters is a matter of perspective, but what is certain is that people need a purpose to drive them.  Andy found one in every single day, it saved him. He gave Red one – and it saved him.

“I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope…”

Like story, we need to know we are going somewhere..( had to get something in :P) But its so much better in his own voice..



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