Revisiting The Shawshank Redemption

Sunday watch for us this week was The Shawshank Redemption. Tenacity, friendship and hope—these were the three things that stood out the most in this iconic film that we watched with our teen (our second viewing, his first). It was easy to pick the title, since it happened to be one film that, for us, would always stand right up with the best of the Hollywood films ever made.

Based on Stephen King’s beloved novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, the story displays horrors of a different kind. It revolves around two men serving life sentences and how in the process of fighting off despair in their unique ways, they take us through a span of twenty years, from the time one of them (Andy) is convicted to the release of the other one (Red) after forty years in prison.

Tim Robbins’ Andy and Morgan Freeman’s Red stand out for their characters and they bring a lot of life and realism into it, as well as a warmth in the friendship that builds up between them. One could say the film is mostly an allegory about how our greatest strength can come out of our sense of personal worth, despite everything that can go wrong in life. The prisoners serving their term at Shawshank are all lifers, and although prison life is extremely harsh and brutish most of the time, the film does not sink into a prison drama or a replay of horrors.

The story is narrated by Red, and we see Andy through his eyes. The film takes us through a range of emotions—from curiosity to pity and admiration for what Andy goes through during his time in prison. For the greater part of the film, we are kept in suspense about Andy’s act, wondering if he really did commit the double murders for which he was given the two life terms that he has been serving.

We are always made to ponder upon why Andy chooses to keep to himself or why he ambles through the prison yard like a free man on a stroll when everyone else appears to be plodding or throwing furtive glances around. What is most striking is how Andy accepts whatever good and bad comes his way, without resorting to any heroic stances, as if it were all part of a larger pattern that only he can see and the rest can’t. Therein, lies the crux of the story. It is heartbreaking and poignant in parts and a major part of the story is about the power of hope that underpins the events that lead us through to the finale or denouement when the twist in the tale brings the story beautifully together.

For those who haven’t watched it before, you’ll find it on Amazon Prime. And if you are like me, watching it again will give you another chance to enjoy your favourite parts, and you already know why it stands the test of time for being one of the greatest films of all time.  Besides an excellent cast and superb acting, there are some incredible lines in the film that will resonate with you.

The most iconic of them is the one that conveys, in just seven words, the very essence of the story that the film tries to convey in two and a half hours:

“Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.”


If you’ve watched the film, do share your reactions. What did you most like about it and if you had to share just one thing that stood out for you from this timeless tale of friendship and hope, what would that be?


Written as part of our #SoulfulSunday freewriting exercise—a concept ideated by VinithaShilpa and yours truly.


13 thoughts

  1. I’ve seen this movie ages ago and I need a refresher view. I do remember being moved by it though . I also remember it as being very thought provoking

  2. I have not watched this movie. Once I got very close to watching it when I decided to watch it based on a list of 10 or some best movies to watch in one’s lifetime. As the first scene played out before me about a boat on a sea and 2 people talking (I hope I am not wrong about this scene), I deemed it to be the kind of movie which wouldn’t interest me having a tangential effect on my mind due to its brilliance. I shut the computer down immediately. This is my story 🙂
    I am happy that you chose to write your review of this movie by nipping your doubts grown well past the budding stage 😀 Next time, please do not hold yourself back, nip the doubts in their buds and write whatever you feel like writing – movie reviews, book reviews, recipes or any other context. You know you have your friends cheering for you in everything you do ❤️❤️❤️

  3. I haven’t watched the movie yet, but I have heard so much about it! I didn’t know it was on Amazon Prime – it’s so difficult to search for content on these online platforms! Now that I do, I’ll put it on my watchlist there.

  4. I haven’t watched this movie yet. I remember my husband trying to get me to watch this one with him many years ago, but I didn’t want to. After reading your review I think I should’ve! Don’t tell my husband. 😁
    I am so happy you wrote this review, Esha. It flows well without revealing the whole story. Writing review without disclosing the whole story but giving out just the essence to capture the reader’s attention is an art. And you have it. Please continue to write more reviews, Esha. 🧡🧡

  5. I loved this movie when I saw it and your review does it so much justice. Did you know that it’s based on a Stephen King novella – Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption?

    1. Oh yes, I forgot to mention about the adaptation from Stephen King’s book. I should have, actually! Thanks for mentioning that, Corinne. And so glad to know you loved it too. 🙂

    1. You absolutely must watch it, Sunita. It is one of the best adaptations from a book. It’s based on Stephen King’s story Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Would love to know how you found it. 🙂

    1. Thanks a ton, Shilpa. So glad to know you liked the review. Wouldn’t have been possible if you girls hadn’t nudged me about it last Saturday. 🙂

  6. I saw this film some years ago and loved it from the word go. Such fabulous acting by Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins! I loved the friendship between the two actors and yes, that line you shared at the end, it had quite an impact on me. I remember using it as a prompt for fiction many moons ago! 😛

    1. Isn’t it just so wonderful? The film has many more such wonderful lines that made me realise that Stephen King’s book on which it is based was a great book. The movie was based on that and the quotes from the movie are all taken from the book itself.

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