Review – The Shawshank Redemption

Perhaps it was because so many people had told me how great this film is, even that it was the greatest movie that they ever watched, that I was disappointed when I eventually got around to watching it.

The acting is brilliant and the scenery is great. The story line is good, although mostly rather predictable. It is and entertaining movie and is very watchable.

shawshank-redemptionMost people know the story by now. Accountant Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sent to prison in the late 1940s for the murder of his unfaithful wife and her lover. He gets to know a life-term prisoner named Red (Morgan Freeman) and they form a friendship. There is a lot of violence, which fits the story. It is believable up to a point.

The last few minutes of the film ruined it for me. I had so many problems with the ending.


The escape by tunnel

Andy tunnels from through the wall of his second tier cell, which just happens to be at the end of the row, into the pipework behind the scenes. He uses a small rock hammer to carve out the tunnel. It takes him 19 years.

  1. Does any prisoner, in any prison in the world, occupy the same cell for 19 contiguous years? I don’t think so.
  2. Why did the tunnel need to be so long? Were the prison walls really about 2o feet thick? I can’t believe that.
  3. Warden Norton (Bob Gunton) opens Andy’s bible and finds a hollow which appears to have housed the rock hammer. This is laughable! Firstly, Warden Norton had held that bible in his hand during a cell search and hadn’t realised that the hammer was enclosed. Secondly, the tunnel was supposedly so well hidden behind a poster that it remained undiscovered until after Andy’s escape. if I had been Andy, I would have hidden the hammer in the mouth of the tunnel.
  4. The tunnel was so narrow that Andy’s body almost filled the diameter. There was certainly no room to turn around. He entered the tunnel head first and crawled on in that attitude. Amazingly, he managed to re-stick the poster over the tunnel entrance. It was certainly very well secured when the Warden threw a rock at it and enlarged the hole with his hands. In the sixties, I believe that the only means of securing posters to brick walls, in my experience, was using sticky tape. That was even before the advent of “magic tape”, which is what it would have needed for Andy to perform such a miracle.
  5. Once Andy makes it through the tunnel into the utilities area, he breaks the sewage pipe open with a heavy object. Where does he get the heavy object from and what is it? The pipe appears to be made of clay. Wouldn’t pipes in the prison structure be made of steel rather than clay?
  6. When Andy smashes a man-sized hole in the pipe, the pressure of the sewage exploding from within gives the viewer the impression that the pipe is full. The scene showing Andy crawling through the long pipe to the outside world shows about two inches of sewage slushing along the bottom of the pipe.

There were a few other anomalies in the escape scenes and those scenes that followed on, but I have summarised the ones which bugged me the most.

The end of the film was too Hollywood happy ending for me too. Had I been directing, the film would have ended about two or three minutes before it actually did.

Red was on a bus heading for the border with Mexico, wondering if Andy had actually made it to the village that he’d spoken about and hoping to join him there. The narrative of Red’s thoughts was really good and captured me. I would have left it there. An open ending. Let the viewer imagine the conclusion.

Instead of that, the producers and director had to take it on to a soft landing. Red found Andy fulfilling his dreams, renovating a boat on a beautiful Mexican beach.

So I had two reasons to be disappointed. It did not meet my expectations, which were built on the hype, and the last ten to fifteen minutes were totally ridiculous.


About Lance Greenfield

Blog: email: I published my debut novel in December 2014: Eleven Miles. My second novel went live in February 2016: Knitting Can Walk!
This entry was posted in movie review, Shawshank Redemption and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Review – The Shawshank Redemption

  1. Damien Riley says:

    Ha! I love how you’re the only person on earth who didn’t like this film. Be true to thyself! There was a period of time when I thought something was wrong with me because I hated every movie I watched. Thankfully, it was just a low phase. But this is Shawshank man! The stuff at the end is so uplifting. But hey, to each his/her own. Part of being a good critic is being real. I applaud you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I always write true and honest reviews. It gets me into trouble sometimes. But I say it how I see it.

      I actually DID like this film, but I was disappointed for the reasons that I cite.

      The biggest feedback that I ever had was when I seemed to be the only person in the world who was not impressed by The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. It is said to be the greatest literary work to come out of Germany in the past 100 years or so. I found it to be so boring that I could not finish it. At first, I had a lot of feedback telling me that I lacked understanding of true literature and there was much name-calling. But that was followed by LOTS of support: many people agree with me. Take a look at Review: The Magic Mountain

      Liked by 1 person

      • Damien Riley says:

        I agree, manytimes we are not alone but are afraid to speak our opinion! I reall enjoyed Shawshank but it could have been better received for the time and not for objective reasons. Keep up the good work!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. SC Skillman says:

    Hi Lance, I read your blog with great interest because I love Shawshank Redemption as you will see from this piece I posted on my own blog: Neverthelesss I was fascinated by the points you raise and I think they are valid. The intriguing thing is that they didn’t spoil the film for me, as they did for you, because other considerations weighed far more with me. It’s like this when we read books too. Some readers can’t stand it if they find an inaccuracy and it then throws them out of the whole created world of the author. But if there are major things compensating for it; theme, tone, characterisation, etc., we can overlook one or two flaws. Thanks again for your very interesting review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right!
      I have always been a great fan of historical fiction. If I let inaccuracies stand in the way of my enjoyment, I would be permanently grumpy. But I am a happy soul!

      I used to have big arguments with my history teacher who rammed dry “facts” down my throat. I maintained that the invented conversations in the books that I read could have actually occurred. Anyway, as he also taught us current affairs and told us not to take media reports at face value without verification, why should I believe historians?

      Back to Shawshanks Redemption: I was truly enjoying the film up to that point. The interactions between the characters and the way that they were acted out was really good. From the moment that it came to the escape, it felt to me as if a different production team and scriptwriter had taken over. It just wasn’t clever. And I would have loved for it to end on Red’s wonderings as he made the bus trip south. That would have left ME wondering instead of having a Hollywood, “Aw, bless them!” ending.

      Papillon was much better – the book and the film.


  3. This is really very interesting, as I also saw this film for the first time a few months ago and had a very different reaction. While I totally get where you’re coming from with your interpretation of the story, something about it just seemed incredibly classic to me. If you’re interested, it would mean a lot to me if you’d check out my review of the film on my website, just to see a bit of a differing perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

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