Why Shawshank Redemption Is The Best Movie Of All Time

Nominated for seven Academy Awards categories and the number one rated movie on IMDb’s Top 250 list, Frank Darabont’s movie Shawshank Redemption (1994) is still considered to be one of the best movies of all time. Based on Stephen King’s novel “Different Seasons”, the story – narrated by the prisoner Red – takes place at the Shawshank Prison facility in Maine in the year of 1947 and tells the story of banker Andy Dufresne, who was sentenced to two life terms after being accused of murdering his wife and her lover. In the 19 years of his stay in Shawshank Prison, the movie explores the inmate’s relationships, the brutality behind bars, and the idea of human institutionalization.

According to the organization “Stop the ACA”, a prison’s purpose is to deprive criminals of their freedom to make them pay a debt to society for their crimes. However, Darabont’s movie challenges the idea of whether or not a prison actually serves the purpose they are intended to. There are two main moments in the movie which are crucial to understanding the deeper meanings behind the plot of the prestigious movie Shawshank Redemption: the character arcs of both Red and Brooks. As the narrator, Red, states throughout the movie, the prison’s “walls are funny. First, you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you depend on them.” This accurately represents the idea portrayed by the author of the original novel, Stephen King, and the director of the movie, Frank Darabont, of how the institutionalization in prison contradicts the actual purpose of a prison. In addition to this, the character arc of Brooks is a perfect illustration of what institutionalization is; after spending his whole life in prison, where all his relationships and beliefs were built, there was no way he could fit into the outside world once he was released. Everything he ever knew had been inside the walls of Shawshank, and taking Shawshank away from him would be taking his freedom away.

Each person has different definitions of certain terms, like freedom for instance, from a rich white man’s perspective, the definition of freedom might be completely different from what Brooks’ or Red’s definition is. How you define certain aspects, beliefs, and terms, all depends on how your surroundings shape it; in Shawshank’s life-sentenced inmates, freedom is being able to take care of a bird while you are in prison, or being able to carve rocks, or even going out to the yard during recess and making bets with your colleagues. Your point of view towards life necessarily depends on your surroundings, and human beings have a tendency to be easily institutionalized. At the same time that one’s ability for adaptation can be a strength, sometimes it can also be a weakness, and instead of opening doors up for, it closes them and gets you stuck in between prison walls.

The fact that Shawshank Redemption is more than just a simple prison movie like thousands of others is what is most beautiful in Darabont’s work. He has the ability to create a piece that, ironically, by setting the story in tight prison walls, manages to open up so many doors about our current society. Despite the original novel being written in 1982 and the movie being released in 1994, the sociological aspects of the inner system in the prison are still extremely accurate in portraying the functioning system in society, from one’s tendency to adapt quickly to the psychological brutality found in everyday relationships. Personally, I’d agree with IMDb’s rating and assure everyone that Shawshank Redemption is one of the best movies of all times, and it has challenged me in ways that no other movie has. This should definitely be on your must watch list!MA