LESLIE CRISS: Longtime favorite film celebrates 20 years of being

“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.” – Andy Dufresne, “The Shawshank Redemption”

“Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” – Andy Durfresne, “The Shawshank Redemption”




Nothing draws me to a book or movie as much as an uncommon title.

Years ago, in a now-gone independent bookstore in Jackson, I pulled two books off the shelves and bought them because I loved the titles – and the covers.

After reading “Run with the Horsemen” and “Whisper of the River,” Georgia author Ferrol Sams became one of my all-time favorite writers.

Nearly two decades ago, the title of a new movie got my attention.

How could “The Shawshank Redemption” not be good?

All these years later, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve rewatched this wonder of a film, based on a short story by horror master Stephen King called “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.”

I read a story recently that let me know I was in a minority because I loved the film when it first was released. As far as dollars go, the movie was considered an early failure.

Artistically, however, a failure it was not.

It was among the five nominees for a best picture Academy Award in 1995. Mississippi’s own Morgan Freeman also received an acting nod. And there were nominations for screenplay, editing, cinematography, sound and the hauntingly beautiful musical score by Thomas Newman.

It seems that in its 20 years of being, “The Shawshank Redemption” has become a beloved classic.

I loved the movie for many reasons. I loved its message of hope and light, friendship and redemption in the middle of a dark, seemingly hopeless place like prison.

As a forever fan of Tim Robbins, I loved the way he breathed life – and believability – into imprisoned banker Andy Dufresne.

“The Shawshank Redemption” is one of my all-time favorite movies, easily making the top 10 list.

And I’m not alone.

There’s a place in Ohio – Ohio State Reformatory – that was for nearly a century, first a reformatory for young male delinquents and later a maximum security prison.

It’s also the place where much of “The Shawshank Redemption” was filmed.

Closed now as a place of incarceration, the great stone buildings saw a crowd of 80,000 tourists come through last year.

Some were ghost hunters, others were attending murder mystery parties.

But most also wanted to see where Andy Dufresne taught his friend Red Redding all about hope.


Click video to hear audio