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

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Universal acclaim- based on 676 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 159
  1. Apr 29, 2013
    Before, I never understood why this movie was #1 on the imdb top 250s list, but now i understand why. This movie was a beautifully crafted story on friendship, redemption and hope. The storyline was really well-crafted, and putting in these unforgettable characters made it even better. From Red to Andy to Norton, they we're all just wonderful and enjoyable characters, especially Red and Andy. The relationship between those two is what really holds the balance of the movie. And putting in characters such as Warden Norton and Captain Hadley makes the story riveting and (in a sense) dark. It's not like any other movie out there. Overall, it's a classic Stephen King story. Expand
  2. Sep 9, 2012
    This is my all time favorite movie. Great story of redemption and justice.
  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. Nov 8, 2013
    Such a strong narrative. All the ingredients of what makes a good drama in the right proportions. The goodness inside people in the most Godforsaken places, and the moral corruption some of us could suffer from if given power over condemned people.

    You have to make your own mind about Andy, whether he is innocent or not. He believes so, but all evidence points to the contrary. Robbins plays him in a subtle, laid-back manner. He's hard to figure out. Then there is Red, played by the masterful Freeman, who is in for the long haul and doesn't know if he is ever going to breathe free air again. These two characters make the heart and soul of the movie.

    There may be a message here. Without being overt, we sense as the years of these men's lives are wasted before our eyes, especially Andy since you can't really figure out if he is guilty or not. But the ways he finds to engage himself, do something good.

    There is plenty of humour and the drama never exceeds the limit where it might become painful. The action is sparse and is shown in an expository fashion. The tone is objective. And Freeman's voice guides you through every scene. The camera angles used, and the overall cinematography was genius. It was like being guided though a maze by an expert in the field. The dialogue was crisp and refreshing. The score quiet and unobtrusive. The world created, or in this case just the prison, seemed so real and complete. You could feel the inmates' emotions related to the place.

    All this may give the impression that it may be hard to sit through it, but quite surprisingly, like all great movies, despite the deep, absorbing discussions about life, the movie speeds through from scene to scene without effort. I had the feeling I have when I'm reading an especially engrossing novel I cannot put down. I guess this is what happens when the work of great directors, screenwriters and cinematographers fuses to deliver a product that exceeds anything that a single department could achieve at its best. This one did not just have effort put into it but also soul.
  5. Nov 14, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Bottom Line: #1-ranked masterpiece on IMDbâ Expand
  6. Jul 21, 2012
    Epic win! Every time I watch it I still get nervous during the roof scene, the beatings, and the escape. This film pulls you into another place and time and it creates a memory that you can revisit. Perfection. Expand
  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 159 User Reviews

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