BP’s Top 100 Challenge #40: The Shawshank Redemption, by Sarah Brinks

1 Aug

I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list provided such a challenge.

There are so many good things to talk about when it comes to The Shawshank Redemption. The cast to start with is topnotch. The stars, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, deliver some career best performances. Freeman adds heart and sincerity, where Robbins maintains a quite intensity throughout the film. Every time Andy Dufresne is on screen you can see there is more happening behind his eyes then you can guess. But the supporting cast members deliver equally fantastic performances. James Whitmore as Brooks the Librarian is charming and sweet and tragic when he can’t make it on the outside. William Sadler as Heywood is annoying but also a good guy and he wins you over in the end. Even the slimy prison staff like Clancy Brown as Hadley the guard and Bob Gunton as the corrupt warden play their parts perfectly so you hate them and root endlessly for Andy and Red.

The film also has a wonderfully structured script. Watching it for the first time you aren’t ever quite sure how it is going to end, but if you have seen it before you can see how the pieces are lining up for Andy’s epic escape from Shawshank Prison. The little hints sprinkled throughout are just enough to keep you interested without giving away the whole secret. Even if you have seen the film before the scene when the warden finally throws the rock through the poster and realizes there is a tunnel behind it is such an effecting scene.

I like that the film shows the dark underbelly of prison life without ever being so explicit that you can’t keep watching but it also shows some of the lighter moments too. The scene when the men are on the roof drinking a beer, or when they get a break for tax season, or when Andy gives Red the harmonica show that prison isn’t terrible every second and that real bonds are formed there over time. My hands down, favorite scene in the film is when Andy finally gets some materials for his library expansion and he locks himself in the warden’s office and plays the record of the aria from ‘The Marriage of Figaro’. The way Red describes that every man in Shawshank felt free and the look on Andy’s face as he listens with music in the background is so lovely.

The Shawshank Redemption reaffirms my healthy fear of prison every time I watch it but it is such an amazing film I am always happy to watch again.

I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)

The Shawshank Redemption ranking: Carrier

Sarah’s ranking of the Top 100 movies… so far (100-40):

100 FIGHT CLUB
99 MANHATTAN
98 BADLANDS
97 SOLARIS
96 BLUE VELVET
95 DUCK SOUP
94 BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID
93 TAXI DRIVER
92 ANNIE HALL
91 WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES
90 ANIMAL HOUSE
89 RAGING BULL
88 JULES AND JIM
87 BLADE RUNNER
86 RAN
85 BICYCLE THIEVES
84 NASHVILLE
83 BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN
82 WILD STRAWBERRIES
81 LA DOLCE VITA
80 THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC
79 SUNRISE
78 THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE
77 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
76 BRAZIL
75 OLDBOY
74 JFK
73 CITY OF GOD
72 GRAND ILLUSION
71 THE PLAYER
70 THE DARK KNIGHT
69 THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI
68 MEMENTO
67 RASHOMON
66 METROPOLIS
65 FORREST GUMP
64 BACK TO THE FUTURE
63 SOME LIKE IT HOT
62 SUNSET BLVD.
61 THE APARTMENT
60 LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD
59 AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD
58 MAGNOLIA
57 CITY LIGHTS
56 FANTASIA
55 THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL
54 THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES
53 PATHS OF GLORY
52 NETWORK
51 REAR WINDOW
50 GHOSTBUSTERS
49 THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
48 EYES WIDE SHUT
47 FINDING NEMO
46 THE WIZARD OF OZ
45 GROUNDHOG DAY
44 THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
43 PERSONA
42 THE LIVES OF OTHERS
41 AMELIE
40 IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE

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