Thursday, September 9, 2010

Capsule Review: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Dwarfed by the success of Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump at the time of its release, a near constant rotation on television steadily rose the profile of Frank Darabont's adaptation of Stephen King's novella "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" until, improbably, it's become one of the most beloved films of the 90s. It's a film that is endlessly re-watchable, brisk despite its lengthy run-time, and featuring a slew of terrific performances which buoy its slower moments. Darabont, who was best known for writing (enjoyably) schlocky horror films, obviously put everything he had into the production, which is surprisingly confident considering it was his first real theatrical feature. Full of great, memorable moments and images - James Whitmore's performance is a highlight - Shawshank remains a strikingly optimistic and sincere film. At a time when cynicism was at an all time high, even the borderline sappiness is endearing.


Will Errickson said...

As a diehard fan of King's original novella, I was one of those few who actually paid to see SHAWSHANK in the theater, and was simply blown away. Blown. A. Way. Then that night I went to see PULP FICTION. That was a helluva day.

Doug Tilley said...

That was a helluva year in terms of quality films, actually. Even if you're down on Forrest Gump (and I couldn't blame you), there was The Lion King, Ed Wood, Clerks, Quiz Show, Speed - and that's only a few of the mainstream Hollywood movies. Still, nothing quite encapsulates how good mid-90s films could be like a Shawshank/Pulp Fiction double-bill.