Single Person’s Movie: The Shawshank Redemption

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It’s 2 a.m. and you awake with a jerk, alone in your fully lit apartment and still on the couch. On TV, the credits of some movie you’ve already seen a billion times are scrolling by. It feels like rock bottom. And we know, because we’re just like you: single.

Need a movie to keep you company until you literally can’t keep your eyes open? Join us tonight when we pass out to The Shawshank Redemption [starting @ 12:10 a.m. on Starz in Black]

Why we’ll try to stay up and watch it: We wouldn’t go so far as to call The Shawshank Redemption played out, but after seeing it at least once a year for the past 15 years, let’s just say that some of the luster has worn off. Of course, therein lies the rub: If we happen to stumble upon the film while idly flipping channels, it is simply impossible for us to move on to something else. Shawshank invariably draws us in like a moth to a flame.

Touting hope before Barack Obama made it cool again, The Shawshank Redemption is one of the all-time male tearjerkers; we’re talking Brian’s Song–level crying here. What always gets us is the combination of Thomas Newman’s iconic musical score (guaranteed to draw waterworks from even the most heartless) and the underlying message: Shawshank isn’t just peddling hope, but the idea that great friendships can endure anything—including the 500 yards of awful foulness that Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins, at the pinnacle of his cold fish persona) had to crawl through to gain his freedom. When discussing the lives of Andy and his BFF, Red (Morgan Freeman, perfectly wistful), C.S. Lewis’ quote about friendship giving value to survival never seemed more appropriate.

If there’s a reason why we don’t love-love Shawshank like we used to, though, it might be because of Frank Darabont. When the film was released in 1994, Mr. Darabont seemed poised to become the next great populist director—Frank Capra by way of John Ford. Instead, as the have years passed, it seems more and more clear that he was nothing but a one-hit wonder. And while we’d like to say that a great movie doesn’t lose anything when its director fails to make good on the promise it pointed toward, we simply cannot. Mr. Darabont is like the Dexys Midnight Runners of filmmakers.

When we’ll probably fall asleep: While it would be very easy for us to sit through the entire movie (again), we can’t very well stay up until past 2:30 a.m. when we have work tomorrow! So we’ll cut out at 12:42 a.m., 32 minutes into the film, when, while tarring a roof at the prison, Andy uses his banker’s background to sate the financially troubled Captain Hadley (Clancy Brown, forever doomed to play sadistic monsters after Shawshank) and score his buddies a few beers in the process. If hope can’t set you free, sometimes a little alcohol can. …

Single Person’s Movie: The Shawshank Redemption