Loyalty, Hope and Keeping Faith, in the Greatest Film I’ve Ever Seen: The Shawshank Redemption

We love listing “The 50 Top … Films, Books, Magic Tricks, Comedians”, etc. etc.

Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne and Morgan Freeman as  Ellis (Red) Redding in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne and Morgan Freeman as Ellis (Red) Redding in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

And a list of the top films will always change from year to year. But to my mind, The Shawshank Redemption makes the top of the list. And I saw it again very recently on TV.

I watched it for the first time several months ago when I borrowed it from LoveFilm. Having visited Aberystwyth University Film Studies Department with my daughter during an Open Day in 2012, I heard the Film Studies lecturer list those films which are considered  “the best ever made” or absolute must-see films for those who are serious about film.

So I dutifully added those films to my LoveFilm list.

And that’s how I came upon The Shawshank Redemption.

And this is why I consider it justly deserving of the title ‘best movie ever made.’

Bob Gunton as Warden Samuel Norton in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Bob Gunton as Warden Samuel Norton in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Its themes are of profound relevance to our lives:

The importance of:

keeping faith; having patience; strategic long term planning; a long term plan of action; perseverance; loyalty; hope; persistence; calm forbearance under ill treatment and suffering.

I believe we can find in The Shawshank Redemption a metaphor for all that’s truly important in this life.

I suggest, too, that it’s no accident that I, as a writer, should relate closely to these themes in my own life. For the film is based upon Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption; and Stephen King, besides all his other books, is the author of the best book for writers I have ever read: On Writing. I’ve heard many other writers give this the highest praise too. I imagine that something of his own understanding of life as a writer may have been uppermost in Stephen King’s mind when he created the story upon which The Shawshank Redemption is based.

Sometimes, struggling through many years without recognition or success, can be like serving 10,20,30 years in Shawshank State Prison. Although the act of creating fiction is in a sense its own reward, and always will be, the fact remains that rewriting drafts and revising a novel line by line over the course of years without any immediate material reward in view, is like chipping away, digging that hole in the wall, the hole which opens the tunnel to freedom, hidden behind a deceptive cover, over years, of slow, patient work.

Keeping faith is the phrase that returns to me again and again, along with patience, perseverance, forbearance, strategic long term planning, and a long term course of action.

And I’m sure you, in whatever circumstances life has thrown at you, can also find parallels here to some aspect of your own experience.

The epiphany at the end of the film has a luminous, spiritual quality to it. To me it is more truly ‘religious’ than anything the Warden Samuel Nortons of this world might delude themselves with.

Watch the film if you haven’t seen it. But if you have – share your feelings about the message of this film.

Author: scskillman

I write contemporary thriller/suspense fiction. "Mystical Circles" is psychological suspense and "A Passionate Spirit" is a paranormal thriller. Both are available as paperbacks and as ebooks. To buy signed copies, go to my website www.scskillman.co.uk where you can order either or both using a secure PayPal link. I've also published a short non-fiction book "Perilous Path: A Writer's Journey", full of helpful tips, insights and reminders for writers.

4 thoughts on “Loyalty, Hope and Keeping Faith, in the Greatest Film I’ve Ever Seen: The Shawshank Redemption

  1. I completely agree with you both about the film and about Stephen King’s book, which I’m always recommending here, there and everywhere. I use the passage from it about his experience as a child, going to have his eardrums lanced at regular intervals, in as many lessons as possible as it’s such a great example of a horror writer recounting childhood events. It’s just brilliant.

    1. Thank you Fran! I found Stephen King’s book moving, powerful and straight from the heart. I cannot see how any true writer could fail to read it, and identify strongly with what he writes.

  2. Yes,very good film I’ve seen several times. There are more good films about prisons: “Escape from Alcatraz” is one of them,starring Clint Eastwood,my favorite actor.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s