Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Shawshank Redemption

(If you haven't seen the movie, don't read this post. But go rent it and watch it right now. Seriously. I'll wait.)

What's your favorite movie? If I'd been asked that question 5 years ago, it would have easily been The Empire Strikes Back or maybe Kenneth Branagh's Henry V, but probably not Shawshank. It was so gradual for me to realize that this was my favorite movie that it was almost like falling in love. I saw it running on TNT for the 100,268 time, and thought, "This is a great movie. This is my favorite movie."

I love the reactions of the Warden and Red as they realize that Andy has escaped. I love the way that Andy becomes a part of the community of the prison. I love the relationship that develops between Andy and Red, but I got thinking the other day, "What's the deal with the title? Why is it called The Shawshank Redemption?"

Here's the question: Who get redeemed? Is it the Warden, the purported Christian? No, he gets a bullet through his head. Is it Andy? No, he escapes. He breaks out hanging onto the last shreds of his humanity, but hanging onto them, nonetheless. Here's what I think the title is referring to. I think the one who gets redeemed is Red.

Now, here's what you should do: go get your copy of the soundtrack. Put it in and go to track 19, Compass and Guns. Listen until the end.

Red starts off the movie as a hardened prisoner. He's become accustomed to life in Shawshank. He's the guy who can get things from the outside world inside. He makes bet on the first new prisoner to cry and on Andy's first night, he bets on Andy. Dusfresne doesn't cry at all. And from that, Andy and Red form a friendship and a bond that gives them something to hang onto, some dignity of life that allows them to be in prison, but not imprisoned.

When Andy escapes, Red is alone for the most part. Yes, he's got his other friends, but his closest is gone. But it's also because of Andy that Red stops trying to BS the parole board and tells them what he really thinks, of course getting Red out of prison. Red doesn't adjust well to the outside life, but better than Brooks who was released earlier in the movie, and commits suicide due to the difficulty.

But Red is different than Brooks; Red has something outside of himself in which to believe. Andy has told him where to go to find directions, directions to join up with Andy in Zhuatenejo. Red follows them and in some of the most hopeful scenes in any movie any where any time, we see Red as free. His face looking out the window of the bus, heading to the border. He feels something, he feels hope. Even though earlier in the movie, he'd said to Andy, "Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."

Now though, in the closing moments of the movie, as Red is walking up the beach at Zhuatenejo, his shoes tied together over his shoulder, carrying his coat, he sees Andy working on his boat, and he narrates to us: "I find I'm so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I imagine it's the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at the start of a long journey, whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border... I hope to see my friend and shake his hand... I hope the pacific is a blue as it has been in my dreams... I hope... "(You should be on So Was Red on the soundtrack by now)

Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope gives us freedom to dare for something more. Hope allows us to look beyond where we are and believe that there is something better. Hope makes me look at the church and say, "Yes, it's screwed up, but Jesus chose this to be His body and the representative of Him until He returns. If Jesus could have hope for what we could be, so can I." Hope allows me to look at myself and think, "I'm not what I once was, but I'm not what I will be either."

God is at work. I don't always know how; I don't always know why; but I know He is. My life is evidence. My wife's life, my daughter's life. God gives me hope.


Anonymous said...

I like your reflections on Shawshank. The way you pointed out things I had never thought of made it even fresher in my memory.

Nashville Christian said...

One of my favorites too. I've never really thought about the title - but I think your right - the redemption is refering to Red.

Anonymous said...

this is good. reading this helped with my school essay, thankyou!

Anonymous said...

I believe it's the prison itself that gets redeemed through Andy - the books, the beer, the opera music - it's Shawshank's redemption.

MindBloggers Club said...

I am greatly impressed ans inspired by this movie.

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