Director: Frank Darabont
Cast: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, the triumph of the human spirit
Have I Seen it Before: I’ve got two eyes, a heart, and a cable package that has TNT. What do you think?
Did I Like It: See my answer to the previous question.
It’s pretty preposterous to try and write any length of criticism for a movie that subjectively is perfect, and objectively might hit that level as well. If you’ve seen it, you know that the thing works. I don’t need to tell you that. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, well Gosh… You should. But again, you probably don’t need me to tell you that.
I’ve seen the movie dozens of times over the years. I can’t think of a mark against it. Maybe it’s become clear that the “fresh fish” guy is also the same guy who appears in a photograph in the file of young Red (Morgan Freeman). He’s also Freeman’s son, and receives an additional credit as his assistant. Maybe—if you’re not hip to the idea of letting film work for you—that one little element might beggar suspension of disbelief.
It’d also be pretty preposterous to try and list all the things the film this does well. There are likely plenty of other reviews that can offer similar insights, so I will offer you only one that stands out at me above the others during this viewing. Nearly any time a film defaults to voice over narration, I have almost always instantly decided that whatever virtue the film might have had, it has disappeared under the shadow of such an egregious dramatic crutch.
With Shawshank, I never once judge the film for having a high amount of V.O. Maybe it’s the fact that Morgan Freeman offers the narration. I like to think that the film as a whole works so well, and in this one instance, the film actually demanded a tool that would destroy a lesser story.
It is in that rare pantheon of movies that you begin to forget its greatness the longer you go without seeing it. And then, when you are exposed to the film again, it’s almost as if you are viewing it for the first time.
That Frank Darabont is not in the pantheon of the great directors for this entry alone, I’ll never know. I just looked back on my review of The Green Mile (1999), and I said the same thing there. I must really mean it.