Starring: Tim Robbins & Morgan Freeman
(Please note: There are spoilers below – If you have not seen this film, stop reading and go watch it. Then come back and enjoy!)
I have watched hundreds of movies and read hundreds of books over the years and this will be the first time I put down in thoughts what I truly felt about the experience and share it with the world at large. When it comes to discussing films with friends, I have a knack of delving into the details and going over every hidden meaning until the coffee runs cold and we are chased out of the diner so that that the register can be turned over for the night.
This film holds a sweet spot in my mind overall. Though I tend to be drawn heavily towards the genre of shock and horror, I feel that this film is in its own way a more harrowing concept than most perceive it as.
First off, I feel it is important to note that this is another example of Stephen King’s short stories translating to film remarkably. The acting and main plot and story of the film are of course riveting. But that is not what draws me to write about this film.
What pulls me in over and over again is the concept of the inner prison. The underlying message throughout the movie is one of acceptance of one’s roll in life. Andy Dufresne is only the most obvious point of focus in this masterfully woven tale. Obviously we know that he is one of only two characters that ever break free from that notion of the inner prison.
The rest of the characters, prisoners, guards and the warden are all trapped for eternity in their life and death. There is no way out for any of them. When Brooks finds himself outside the walls they built for him, he is lost, almost as much so as the warden.
Warden Norton is like the great fat parasite that can no longer live independently from the monster that he has latched himself onto. He continuously winds himself around his own noose throughout the film, almost to the point that you feel sorry for him when the gun goes off as the camera pans away…almost.
The fear in Captain Hadley’s eyes as they drag him away lets you peer into the soul of a man that cannot even comprehend the idea of changing the aspects of life. His is a tragic fate; a life held so rigid to a specific set of rules and laws that once those things change, life as he understands it comes to a halt. You can almost envision a future for him that ends with a self hanged man in a cell, or a thousand angry shivs.
The greatest tragedy in the film is the man who almost finds his way. Tommy, who if not for the likes of Andy, would have gone on living a long life in his own prison, managed to break free only enough to force others to drag him down. His death is what makes this film. It shows the careful balance that exists between wanting to break free from those walls, and being able to.