The Shawshank Redemption

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The Shawshank Redemption. - movie reviews
Richard Alleva
Some wise guy might dismiss The Shawshank Redemption as Son of Cool Hand Luke. So it is, but it's more than that. Frank Darabont's adaptation of a Stephen King novella seems to respond to the old Paul Newman movie, amend it, complete it. A well-bred young banker is sent to serve a life term in Shawshank prison in Maine after being unjustly convicted of the murder of his wife and her lover. Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) seems to be a pragmatic version of Cool Hand Luke. Whereas Luke's only agenda was to run away from the chain gang, endure punishment, then run away again, Andy apparently has only limited, relatively realistic goals: he wants to survive prison with a minimum of decency, and he wants to share that decency with his circle of friends--the grimly stocis "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman) and a few others. So he uses his knowledge of investment strategies and tax shelters to ingratiate himself with the head guard and the warden, both greedy brutes whose avarice can be played upon to neutralize their sadism. Dufresne's shrewdness gains him one concession after another: out-of-door work and free beer for his buddies, protection from a gang of rapists, the post of assistant librarian, and, finally, permission to start a prison tutorial program. Though Andy does give way to Luke-like bursts of rebellion--at one point he sends a gorgeous Mozart duet rippling over the prison PA system--and takes his lumps for them, he more often seems less a rebel than an incarnation of Pope John XXIII's dicturm, "Notice everything, overlook much, improve a little." Yet, finally, we learn that there's even more to Andy Dufresne than that. There simply has to be. Shawshank is hell and you really can't adjust to hell without also adjusting to despair. Dufresne plays a cooler hand to bring about his redemption than Luke ever did because he has a wild card, a very wild card indeed, up his sleeve. It takes him twenty years to...
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