This film would have passed me by, but for the intervention of a good friend, who 'appalled' that I hadn't seen it, challenged me to watch it and deny it's greatness. Never one to back down from a decent challenge, I watched it and had to agree wholeheartedly with him. It is, I finally had to agree, righfully deserving of its seven oscar nominations. It's a stunningly great film about hope in adversity that slowly draws you in with it's amazing performances and brilliant characterisation.
At the heart of this film are the two main performances of Tim Robbins' Andy DuFresne (the only truly innocent man in a prison filled with men who claim to be innocent) and Morgan Freeman's Red.
It's a very hard watch in some places, as are most films set in prisons, but it's Andy's unshakeable decency that eventually draws you into the story and it is that 'decency' which allows him to survive the experience.
But, it's the cleverness of Frank Darabont's script and the surprise ending, coupled with Morgan Freeman's exquisite description of Andy's escape that will forever seer this film into the minds of anybody that has ever seen it.
Without doubt, one of the best prison films ever made, along with Cool Hand Luke and Brubaker.
"Get busy living, or get busy dying."