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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • 3 Featurette
  • Photo gallery
  • Storyboards
  • Short film

The Shawshank Redemption - Special Edition

/Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 136 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

The Shawshank Redemption is simply a wondrous movie, which represents Hollywood story-telling at its best.

The tale is simple -- of an innocent man, banker Andy Dufresne, who is wrongly jailed for murder of his wife and wife's lover. He is given life-imprisonment and ends up in an institution which brutalises and dehumanises its inhabitants. His own innate intelligence and optimism can take him only so far -- for long-term survival and friendship in this extreme environment, his life-line becomes a fellow-con, Red (Morgan Freeman).

The story, with screenplay by the film's director Frank Darabont, is adapted from a novella by Stephen King.

As you'd expect with material from such a source, the story is quite a bit contrived; the strings are pulled at all the right times with professional ease. Our emotions are played like a violin.

And yet while we know we're being shamelessly manipulated, it doesn't really matter, as the film-making craft is so sound, and the performances are so good, that we can only marvel at the effect -- and rejoice, along with millions of other viewers, at the movie's unexpected and beautifully redeeming ending.

Casting is particularly fine. Tim Robbins (the thinking man's Tom Hanks) is superb in a quiet and gentle way as jailed banker Andy Dufresne. But the film finds its gravitas in the portrayal of Red by Morgan Freeman. Both his presence on-screen and his character-filled voice-over narration are transfixing -- it is quite unbelievable that he was overlooked by the Academy Awards for this role. The Oscar, in that Forrest Gump year, went instead to the very bland Tom Hanks for his portrayal of Tom Hanks pretending to be simple.

The Shawshank Redemption received seven Academy nominations in 1995 and won none. It received only mild praise on its cinema release -- and small audiences. It was reborn via the home-video market, first becoming a cult classic, and then finally achieving, via DVD, mainstream critical and public success. It is a film for all generations; Hollywood at its very best.

  Video
Contract

This is reference-quality video, in a splendid anamorphic transfer with very realistic colour tones, and shadow detail.

There are no artefacts present. This is an example of the kind of transfer which should be achieved with every modern movie, when a good condition print-source is still available.

  Audio
Contract

The 5.1 Surround sound is very natural, with emphasis on the front sound stage. Dialogue and music come across with total clarity. There is no exaggeration of sound-effects, and there are no spatial games of any sort -- this is a straight-down-the-line aural presentation befitting the inherent focused drama of the piece.

  Extras
Contract

If you already own a previous DVD edition of The Shawshank Redemption, do you need to replace it?

Sadly, the answer is yes. This Special Edition is the edition we should have had all along. The extras are particularly well made and thoughtful, and considerably enrich the viewing experience.

There is an Audio Commentary from screenplay writer/director Frank Darabont, which is full of illuminating detail -- listen only after you've viewed the movie at least a couple of times.

There are three very solid featurettes. The first, the 31-minute 'making of' documentary, Hope Springs Eternal, is far more interesting than the typical promo effort, and features thoughtful contributions from all the major participants in the movie.

The major featurette is the 48-minute Shawshank: The Redeeming Feature, which examines the surge in popularity for this movie after its relatively disappointing first cinema release. Again, the principal players (Darabont, Freeman, Robbins) feature, and the discussion, which brings in early-era successes such as Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, is fascinating. This is a British Channel Four documentary.

There's a long (42-minutes) film from a US television chat show, The Charlie Rose Show, which is a three-header with Darabont, Freeman and Robbins -- I've not seen Charlie Rose before, but this seems a notch above the average US chat show standard -- though that 's not saying much. It seems about the standard of an average Michael Parkinson show, which again is not saying much.......

There's an offbeat Short Film bonus, The Sharktank Redemption, which is a mild business-world satire on Shawshank which is reasonably diverting in a one-idea simplistic manner. There are Photo Gallery and Storyboard sections for people interested in that sort of space-wasting stuff, along with a good condition theatrical trailer.

Overall, this is a strong assemply of extra features, which really gives merit to the DVD pack's 'Special Edition' tag.

  Overall  
Contract

Yes, this is a very special edition, with all the features which should have been on the DVD release the first time around. You'll curse the studio for making you replace your original DVD copy only a year after you bought it -- but grit your teeth and just do it.


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  •  DVD NET Gold Review List 
      And I quote...
    "This new Special Edition is the perfect introduction to one of the great movies of our time."
    - Anthony Clarke
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DVD 655A
    • TV:
          Loewe Profil Plus 3272 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Denon AVR-3801
    • Speakers:
          Neat Acoustics PETITE
    • Centre Speaker:
          Neat Acoustics PETITE
    • Surrounds:
          Celestian (50W)
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