Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 753 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Wrongly convicted, Andy Dufresne (Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in in Maine's Shawshank prison for the murders of his wife and her lover. Set in the 1940's, the film shows how Andy learns to get by in the brutal confines of prison, even earning the respect of his fellow inmates, most notably the longtime convict "Red" Redding (Freeman). Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    A thumpingly good ode to friendship, hope, wit, wiles and wisdom, brimming with crackling characters and topped with the most twisteroo of twists since "The Crying Game."
  2. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    Central to the film's success is a riveting, unfussy performance from Robbins. Freeman has the showier role, allowing him a grace and dignity that come naturally.
  3. There are times when The Shawshank Redemption comes dangerously close to sounding one of those "triumph of the spirit" notes. But most of it is eloquently restrained. [23 Sept 1994, p.C3]
  4. As the uptight banker, Robbins does some of his subtlest acting to date. As his hardened but resilient friend, Freeman is simply miraculous, giving the role so much depth, dignity, and good humor that you feel that you've known this man forever. [27 Sept 1994]
  5. 88
    If the film is perhaps a little slow in its middle passages, maybe that is part of the idea, too, to give us a sense of the leaden passage of time, before the glory of the final redemption.
  6. Some of "The Shawshank Redemption'' comes across as outrageously improbable. Yet the film keeps pulling you back with its sense of striving humanity slowly turning the tables against evil.
  7. Speaking of jail, "Shawshank"-the-movie seems to last about half a life sentence. The story, chiefly about the 20-year friendship between Freeman and Robbins, becomes incarcerated in its own labyrinthine sentimentality.

See all 19 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 6 out of 169
  1. Jul 1, 2013
    Perfection. The benchmark of all dramas, this is as good as cinema gets. Everyone should watch it, if you don't find this film moving you basically have no feelings. Expand
  2. Sep 27, 2012
    Shawshank Redemption is easily one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life. The movie has a great message to it, the acting and filming were fantastic. Expand
  3. Nov 3, 2010
    One of the best movies of all time. Don't deprive yourself of the pleasure of watching such a stellar movie. Go now and watch this movie if you have never seen it. Perfect casting, amazing story, emotional performances. Just perfect. Expand
  4. Dec 31, 2013
    Needless to say an all time great. One of the few movies you can watch over and over. The acting in incredible, the story is captivating and engaging, and every actor comes through in a big way. A truly wonderful movie. If you have not seen it, you will not be disappointed when you do. Expand
  5. Dec 23, 2011
    The greatest movie set in a prison I've ever seen! Its full of courage from Tim Robbins to survive prison and no matter what the differences between him and Morgan Freeman and all the other prisoners, no matter what violence comes up, no matter their crimes, no matter what crazy or illegal things they have to do to survive prison, no matter what the warden does to Tim Robbins, together prison is awesome and they can redeem themselves. Movies like this show what would happen if prisoners accept people's differences and redeem themselves from their crimes and that's good thing because people don't need to act like idiots in prison. Despite the graphic violence in this movie in the beginning, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman used friendship to forget prison and made each other good people and they were great people! Whoever does NOT like this movie is a bully and needs lighten up because this is a light-heart movie of teaching you the lessons of prison. Expand
  6. Jan 17, 2013
    Very good movie. There are no words to describe how good this movie is.
  7. Sep 28, 2011
    I don't like the Shawshank Redemption. It's a bunch of guys sitting around in prison listening to classical music. Most of them, with the exception of the protagonist, are murderers and scumbags. I don't feel any sympathy for them. Then you get to the end and there's some hokey fairytale ending where the two guys meet up on some sunny picturesque beach and it's all smiles and rainbows and **** What's to like?

    Now, that doesn't mean I can't enjoy movies with people who've done bad things. There are plenty of anti-heroes in good films, like "Leon" for example. Or, The Professional if you will. The film was originally titled Leon in France but then changed to The Professional when it came over to America. I guess because they figured that American audiences wouldn't be interested in seeing a movie titled Leon, they'd just miss out on what the film was really about.

    I think the difference in something like "Leon" is that while he's an assassin for hire, he's only going out and killing other drug dealers and corrupt cops and people who are as vile or worse. There's a code he follows. So it's like the lesser of two evils, you can relate with him because he's better then the people he combats. Same with Batman, he's a vigilante and thus a criminal, but he follows a code and commits violence against those even worse then he is. While in Shawshank... the convicts are imprisoned for committing crimes against innocent people, we assume. We don't really find out the specific circumstances, but it's generally understood that these people were not committing crimes against even worse human beings.

    So this aura of reverence and love for the film has always mystified me. I'm not going to say it's a bad film. The cinematography and acting all seem fairly competent. But it just didn't do anything for me. I felt bored by it. And ya know, listening to people hyping it up to be one of the greatest films ever made didn't help either. It's number one on IMDB's top 250 greatest, for God's sake. And there're plenty of people out there who'll tell you it should've won Best Picture over Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump. Me, I'm of the opinion Forrest Gump rightfully deserved the award. Forrest Gump, now there was a film that really moved me and touched me deep down inside.

See all 169 User Reviews

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