Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Extraordinary Redemption

Fear can hold you prisoner
Hope can set you free

Two lines that are remarkably simple but so astonishingly powerful that I was awed the minute I looked them up at the DVD cover for the first time. I had heard a lot about the movie before, but thankfully never insisted upon reading up a review or a short summary before viewing it and after the movie was over, not only was I kneeling before my computer in sheer reverence of the masterpiece, I was also immensely glad that I hadn’t bothered about religiously sticking to that pre-movie viewing ritual of mine. In short, you don’t need a great review for a movie like this, just watch it. It is bound to change your life in more ways than one. It is one of those experiences that leaves you speechless, if not exuberant, and creates a sense of hope, if not of hardcore optimism and patience.

For those who are purists when it comes to seeking an opinion about a movie, here’s the rest of the review. It is a story of Andy (Tim Robbins) who gets a life term for being the accused in the murder trial of his wife and her lover. In the Shawshank prison where he is sentenced, he meets Red (Morgan Freeman) who becomes his closest friend there. It is through Red’s pov that you see the movie that spans for about 20 years of Andy’s life in the prison and the way he revolutionizes the lives of the prisoners and the warden at Shawshank. Along the way, we witness his struggles, trials and tribulations and his unwavering patience and conviction that top it all. The most jubilant part in the movie is towards the end, when Andy pulls off a very carefully planned stunt in a style that will get your soul to cheer for him and have your faith restored in the eternal power of good and justice.

Giving away the end won’t dilute the essence of the movie for it is not about getting to know what happens next. It is about knowing what is happening now and living that experience through the narrator’s and protagonist’s eyes. It is about influencing people’s lives in a positive way and knowing how to make yours worthwhile. Most of all, it is about the soul seeking redemption and the spirit being set free after finally acquiring it. It is about life that you get just once and it up to you how you make the best of what you got.

Based on Stephen King’s novel “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”, this is a deeply soulful movie, beautifully directed by Frank Darabont. The cinematography is almost breath taking, especially in the aerial scenes of the Shawshank prison. Even though the content expanse of the storyline is limited to Andy and his Shawshank years, the cinematography makes us believe that the scope is much wider and leaves an after taste of an epic in our minds. The dialogues are taut and well-written just like the script and there is not a moment of laxity or slack in this lyrical saga of an inspiring life.

As for the actors, words will fall short if one has to describe Tim Robbins’ spellbinding and subtle-nuanced performance as the quiet, brilliant, thoughtful and genteel Andy. He has played the character to such perfection that for a while Andy and Tim are undistinguishable as different people in your perception. Freeman, as the crook Red, has delivered effectively and his voice over for the entire story is the best voice overs out of the countless ones he has done. It is never intrusive, and has an unusual calming effect like that of a wonderful storyteller. The rest of the cast is up to the mark and leaves nothing undone.

As for the reason why this movie never won a single Oscar, all I can say that it had to be the one of the greatest offences that the Academy committed for which God knows when they shall seek redemption.

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