Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman have done lots of films, but The Shawshank Redemption will follow them forever. It’s been 20 years since Shawshank hit the big screen. And now Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, and director Frank Darabont are commemorating the modern classic.
Based on a novella by Stephen King called “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”, the film has stood the test of time. It did not do that well in theaters originally, but caught life when it hit video. Tim Robbins’ portrayal of Andy Dufresne, a man imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, is among his finest roles.
“It was the best script I had ever read,” Robbins said of the film.
But think about how long it’s been since the film was released. Twenty years — that’s longer than it took Andy to dig out of Shawshank. As Morgan Freeman famously narrated:
“In 1966, Andy Dufresne escaped from Shawshank prison. All they found of him was a muddy set of prison clothes, a bar of soap, and an old rock hammer, damn near worn down to the nub. I remember thinking it would take a man 600 years to tunnel through the wall with it. Old Andy did it in less than 20.”
Speaking of Morgan Freeman, his character has become a bit of a legend. It’s not just Freeman’s now-ubiquitous resonant narration. It’s the fact that he’s black.
In the film, Andy Dufresne asks his new friend, Ellis Boyd Redding, why they call him “Red.”
“Maybe it’s because I’m Irish,” Red replies.
The line always gets laughs. But in the original novella, Red actually is an older, white Irishman. When he says that line to Andy, it is not all that funny. But after casting Morgan Freeman, Frank Darabont left the line in the movie as a joke.
Frank Darabont himself has gone on to do many things, and is currently best known for The Walking Dead television series.
“I really cling to the letters from people for whom the movie really meant something,” Darabont said at a Shawshank reunion and screening hosted by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. “It stopped somebody from committing suicide, or at least they credit it for it having saved their lives that day. Whatever someone needed to hear that day to reinforce them as a human being, the movie gave it to them. It’s only then you realize you’ve made something more than just a two-hour movie.”