This is the penultimate choice for this year’s blind spot series. And not a bad one at it. Rather, I found it difficult to compartmentalize coherent paragraphs about this film. I think the film has triggered something, that even when I’m looking at graphics and lines from the film, there this sense of joy and sadness that overcomes me. I think that is what the film is about. That culmination of joy and sadness, of hopelessness and optimism that surrounds the characters, and the harsh realities of the worlds they are pushed in.
Andy Dufresne was convicted of murdering his wife and her lover after discovering their affair. He was then sent to Shawshank to serve two lifetime sentences. There, he becomes an acquaintance of Red, who was also battling his own prison scars, always applying for parole, but end up getting rejected. Parts of the film were told in Red’s point of view, from how he had initially perceived Andy, to a growing friendship that kindled behind the four walls. The film also introduces a variety of characters, each with their own personalities. These people have transformed Andy’s life in prison, something that took Red and his fellow inmates in awe, particularly how Andy’s spirits have managed to be uplifting despite all he goes through.
The film mostly centers on fear and hope, factors that invoke sadness and joy. There were so many scenes depicting their flight of never being free physically, emotionally, and mentally. They have been programmed into a way of life that these inmates have slowly forgotten what it’s like to be free. Or even if they were free from prison, could they ever be free of the kind of life they are used to.
What triggers the mixture of feelings in my case, is that it’s such an uplifting film, and yet you meet these broken people and you start to think if there was a chance. This was why those scenes of joy, albeit short scenes, are so powerful because it shadows light on a life so bleak. When Red was given a harmonica, and plays a bit of it in the darkness of his cell, you can feel his character tinkering with the possibility that there’s something greater in store for him. When he started to feel a life so similar to Brooks, he forgoes his chances to see what hope has in stored for him. This is also why the final scene was a beautiful scene, as the fine line between fear and hope was ultimately crossed, and that feeling of freedom found in their reunion.
The use of narration in this film compliments the transitions of the scenes, as the words spoken say so much about the situation. Not only does it convey information we need, but the inner thoughts of people that help shape the notions of the situation. One of the heartbreaking scenes in the film consisted of narration, and it was haunting. The film was also well-written, providing juxtaposition of the two themes harrowing the characters. The characters themselves are an interesting group. The guards and the warden though were written and portrayed with characteristics that are so antagonistic that you’d think they were from real life.
The score of the film was very complimentary of the cinematography, and added deeper impact to important scenes. Frank Darabont does fantastic work putting the film together that leaves you with a good kind of feeling.
Final Word: I was expecting a very weepy film (I assumed based on the movie’s poster - Tim Robbins does look like he was crying), but was met with haunting and heartbreaking work instead.
Cast: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton
Director: Frank Darabont