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.
Most 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.
<– HUGE SPOILER ALERT –>
<– DO NOT READ ON IF YOU HAVE YET TO WATCH THE FILM –>
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.
- Does any prisoner, in any prison in the world, occupy the same cell for 19 contiguous years? I don’t think so.
- Why did the tunnel need to be so long? Were the prison walls really about 2o feet thick? I can’t believe that.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.