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The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

This is the #1 movie of all time (according to rankings by voters on IMDb).  Ever since its original release in 1994, The Shawshank Redemption has remained a cinematic classic as one of the greatest films ever made.  Based on a novella by Stephen King, this film has appealed to audiences for 25 years (as of 2019) because of its compelling plot as the film explores the power of friendship and the Biblical concept of “redemption” itself.

A Toast!

The acting is incredible, the cinematography is dazzling, and the original score is sumptuous!  This film features what might be Morgan Freeman’s greatest performance even though the character “Red” in the original novel is actually Irish.  It is a funny coincidence that Tim Robbin’s character’s first name is “Andy” because he played a different “Andy” on the TV series St. Elsewhere.  Rita Hayworth also looks gorgeous whenever the film presents her as the iconic actress that she is via posters and film clips from Gilda (1946), since the title of Stephen King’s original novella is Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

Written and directed by Frank Darabont, this film reveals how he is a brilliant screenwriter and director even though the “Best Director” Academy Award nomination eluded his grasp during the awards season after its initial theatrical release.  At least he still gained recognition a few years later for The Green Mile (1999), which is yet another Stephen King adaptation.  It is also really sweet that Frank Darabont dedicated the finished film to his first agent, Allen Greene.  Thank goodness that the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, granted the filmmakers permission to use that institution to provide the setting of the fictional Shawshank prison set in Maine.


When people debate about, “What is the greatest movie of all time?”, several titles come to mind, including Gone with the Wind (1939), Titanic (1997), and La La Land (2016).  Since voters on IMDb are usually made by general film lovers, many might agree that The Shawshank Redemption IS the greatest movie of all time!  This film is possibly the quintessential example of how a film DOES NOT need any Academy Awards in order to be great.  This film is so amazing that it is both shocking and depressing that this film left the Academy Awards ceremony empty-handed on Oscar night.  The history of cinema might only be around one hundred years old (as of 2019), but The Shawshank Redemption is definitely one of the best, if not the best, movies ever made.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Bonus Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time Red provides voice-over narration

Drink a Shot: every time the film explores Christian concepts and religious topics, especially when the film shows hard copies of The Holy Bible

Have a Fancy Drink: whenever the film displays Rita Hayworth and her beauty that earned her the nickname “The Love Goddess”

And One Final Toast: to what really could be “the greatest movie of all time”!

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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