Andy Dufrense (Tim Robbins) is a banker who has been wrongly accused of murdering his wife and her lover and is given two life sentences in the dark and depressing Shawshank prison. Immediately, Andy is a target for mistreatment, by both guards and inmates. He is harassed, threatened, and even raped by a group called “Bull Queers”. Shortly after Andy is befriended by a long time inmate called “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman). Red is the guy who can smuggle things in the prison. If you want something you go to Red.
It’s not long before both guards and prisoners realize Andy’s knack for accounting and dealing with tax problems. Now Andy is not only protected by the guards but he turns the prison library into his own little workshop and begins to help anyone who wants it, including the prisoners. After years, in the prison Andy is now respected, but more importantly Andy never lost his hope or his inner spirit. The relationship between Andy and Red is an amazing interaction and is so genuine you almost have to believe they are intimate friends off screen as well. The trials and tribulations that happen in the years they put away in prison would make the strongest man lose hope, but not Andy.
There is no flashy camerawork in this film, it’s straight up story telling. The director Frank Darabont let the screenplay and the actors do their magic while the camera just idly filmed it in the back round. In the back round counteracting the beautiful simplicity of the visuals is the magnificent and poignant composure of Thomas Newman (who also did American Beauty). Tim Robbins was made for the role of Andy Dufrense, a man with a soft and gentle soul and boundless hope for his future and his freedom. Red, played by Morgan Freeman, was the perfect match for Robbins, with an outer strength, but a heart willing to give. Morgan Freeman is like a fine wine, he simply gets better with age. The friendship developed between them is one of the most tangible things ever in a film.
The richness of hope and the inner spirit of this movie could touch your most hardened person. It’s so inspiring that you can’t help but be whisked away by the story yourself. The Shawshank Redemption is a masterpiece of cinema and should be watched by anyone who has a mind or a heart. Four out of Four stars.