Other than maybe pacing, the biggest issue I have with a lot of troubled films is the ending. Yeah everyone says it’s more about the journey but an ending needs to feel satisfying or the whole thing can be forgettable. And it doesn’t just relate to movies, this goes for video games and books. But when you get the right ending, it truly makes a film feel complete. With “The Shawshank Redemption,” even knowing the ending beforehand does not take away from its sheer brilliance.
The movie focuses on Andy Dufresne and his time in Shawshank prison. While he is found guilty of murdering his wife and her lover, there are plenty of questions surrounding his culpability. And as you watch the movie you really wonder what the truth is. Personally, like the other criminals, I thought he was guilty.
But regardless we see him live in one of the worst prisons where guards kill inmates when they’re pissed and a warden who is all about making illegal money off his slave labor. While the men who are with Andy clearly were not good people in society, you do feel that some aren’t truly terrible. Guys like Morgan Freeman’s Red create bonds with plenty of fellow inmates and they all work together to survive the daily struggles of prison.
Now part of what makes “The Shawshank Redemption” work is that it takes place over a long period of time. It’s not one where everything is solved right away but instead in a process where you slowly see these characters develop. After decades in jail, these men can’t really live outside of it. This becomes a very sad yet impactful punishment that these “criminals” endure.
I’m sure what most people remember about the movie is the ending and while I won’t spoil it for you (though most know it) I can say it’s exactly how you want a film to conclude. It is not just that you feel a sense of completion but also feel pretty surprised. When you start looking back on everything, it all makes sense however you never really thought about it at the time.
Unfortunately I had seen parts of the film before so it didn’t have the initial surprise, which was intended. That said, it still worked overall and frankly I wish I had never seen the ending beforehand. The characters are also very well done with a very strong cast highlighted by Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. This all combines to create a movie that still remains among the finest cinema has to offer. Sure the journey is the crux of any story but the ending is what makes it exceptionally worthwhile.