"Get busy living, or get busy dying." This is just one of the many impactful quotes from The Shawshank Redemption. Before the movie leaves Netflix in April, it's one you should absolutely watch. The 1994 classic is a timeless and uplifting story about hope, life, and justice, and it has incredible performances. Whether you've seen it or not, it's always a good time to experience the tearjerker that makes viewers feel inspired while giving them a new perspective of life. Netflixers, you have until April 1 to make it happen.
Based on the story by Stephen King, the movie centers around a banker, Andy (Tim Robbins), who's sentenced to two life terms in prison for the murder of his wife and the man she was having an affair with. Although throughout the movie Andy claims that he's innocent, he still has a calm and optimistic aura about him. He befriends a convict named Red (Morgan Freeman) and the two develop a close bond. Andy witnesses brutalities of prison life including a corrupt warden and violent guards and inmates, but he stays strong and even helps advance the community.
Andy utilizes his banking skills to help the warden and staff with business schemes and investments, so that in return he can help improve Shawshank Prison's library. In his 19 years at the prison, Andy commits acts of defiance and hope, which leads to an amazing ending that's sparked debate while going down in film history.
The drama scored seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Morgan Freeman), Best Cinematography, and Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as several Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations. Shawshank was well received by critics, and has a 91 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
When the film came out, Ian Nathan of Empire wrote, "If you don't love Shawshank, chances are you're beyond redemption." Gene Siskel of The Chicago Tribune called it "simply marvelous entertainment." And to this day, the critics stick by it. In 2009, Louise Keller of Urban Cinefile wrote, "I love this film. It's a story about hope and dreams and one whose emotional impact is as great as the Pacific Ocean is blue." And not only is the film a wonderful portrayal of hope, but of friendship, as well.
Last year, Tim Robbins described his bond with Morgan Freeman for The Hollywood Reporter when Freeman received the SAG Awards' Lifetime Achievement honor. "I think one of the reasons Shawshank continues to resonate is that it's one of the few movies about a loving relationship — really a love story about two men — that doesn't involve car chases or is a buddy comedy," Robbins said. "I always felt, going into rehearsal on a new scene, that we had a bond, a common belief in what that script was, to find every piece of the scene — every detail, every unspoken moment that wasn't written."
In 2014, at the film's special 20th anniversary screening, Robbins, Freeman, and director Frank Darabont gathered to reveal some fun facts about the film for fans. Morgan said he didn't even know which role he was auditioning for, while Robbins said it was cow poop, not human poop, that was really an issue on set (and in that scene — you'll see once you watch it). Darabont also revealed Shawshank's original ending.
Without giving too much away to those who haven't seen it, the director explained that in the original script, "Red [was] on the bus going off to this uncertain and hopeful future, which is how the novella ends." (The movie is adapted from King’s short story “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” from his novel Different Seasons.) But the ending in the final version was as deeply satisfying then as it is now.
Watch The Shawshank Redemption and have a little more faith restored in the power of hope.