Film #13 in FilmExodus’ AFI 100 Movies
Every week FilmExodus does a review/analysis of a different cinematic masterpiece from AFI’s 100 Movies 2007 updated list. For a complete overview and how you can participate, click here.
If you call yourself a movie lover, you are no stranger to The Shawshank Redemption. Praise and adoration for Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the Stephen King novella of the (semi) same name is universal and warranted. In fact, if you are reading this and have not already seen the film, I say with confidence that you are by definition, inferior to those who have. The greatness of the film is that undeniable.
Listen, Shawshank is a film that has a special place in all of our hearts. I could go on and on about the trivia and backstory of this exceptional film, but I think instead of that, I invite everyone to share their own personal experience with this film. Because this film is, more than any other film on the AFI Top 100, personal. I’ve read postings on this site (and the Disqus channel before here) of how the story of Andy, Red and the rest of those at Shawshank shaped and formed our love and passion for movies.
For myself, Shawshank came out when I was in 5th grade. I remember seeing the marketing for this film and thinking it must be about some strange black magic voodoo story (Shawshank had a mystical sound to it). It wasn’t until a classmate of mine whose parents allowed him to watch whatever he wanted, told me it was about prison that I had any idea of what really the movie was about. After that, my experience with the film was mostly edited TNT broadcasts. The first time I saw the movie, I came into it during the ‘Fresh Fish’/Fat Ass scene. It wasn’t until maybe my sophomore year of high school that I sought out the movie in its (unedited) entirety. The impetus behind doing so was 100% Thomas Newton’s score.
Growing up, I was raised in an extremely Christian household. When it came to music, I wasn’t allowed to listen to anything that wasn’t “Christian” music. As you could imagine, a 16 year old Coolhandluque grew tired of listening to DC Talk and Rich Mullins on repeat and instead sought out film scores. I became aware of Thomas Newman from his incredible work on Meet Joe Black and asked for any and every score he composed on CD for Christmas that year (this guy fucks!). One of the scores I received was The Shawshank Redemption, and despite never having seen the film in its entirely, it’s tracks dominated my listening rotation. Eventually I convinced my parents to rent to VHS from Movie Gallery, and the rest is history. Since then, I’ve seen the film at least 20 times. I cannot imagine who I am as a movie lover without it being my favorite film for the past 17 years.
Anyway, I’m more interested in hearing what everyone else’s experience and story is with this film.