Genre: Crime, Drama
Relase Date: 14 Mar 1994
Director: Frank Darabont
Runtime: 2h 22min
Movie Bio : Interesting that although the hero of the film is the convicted former banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), the action is never seen from his point of view. The film’s opening scene shows him being given two life sentences for the murder of his wife and her lover, and then we move, permanently, to a point of view representing the prison population and particularly the lifer Ellis ‘Red’ Redding (Morgan Freeman). It is his voice remembering the first time he saw Andy (“looked like a stiff breeze would blow him over”), and predicting, wrongly, that he wouldn’t make it in prison.
People like excitement at the movies, and titles that provide it do well. Films about “redemption” are approached with great wariness; a lot of people are not thrilled by the prospect of a great film – it sounds like work. But there’s a hunger for messages of hope, and when a film offers one, it’s likely to have staying power even if it doesn’t grab an immediate audience.
There wasn’t much going for it: It had a terrible title, it was a “prison drama” and women don’t like those, it contained almost no action, it starred actors who were respected but not big stars, and it was long at 142 minutes. Clearly this was a movie that needed word-of-mouth to find an audience, and indeed business was slowly but steadily growing when it was yanked from theaters. If it had been left to find its way, it might have continued to build and run for months, but that’s not what happened.
“The Shawshank Redemption” premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 1994, and opened a few weeks later. It got good reviews but did poor business (its $18 million original gross didn’t cover costs; it took in only another $10 million after winning seven Oscar nominations, including best picture).