Listen to our The Shawshank Redemption episode on:
- Google Play
- Player FM
- Pocket Casts
It’s tough being on top. Sitting at the peak of the popularity tree has its perks, but it invites a level of scrutiny that demands constant justification. Just ask Beyoncé.
The Shawshank Redemption is a funny kind of popular. It’s not the most popular movie of all time by box office numbers – far from it, the movie infamously tanked on release back in 1994. Nor is it the ultimate critical darling. Reviews were strong when it came out, and the AFI 100 currently places it at a modest 72nd place.
No, the area where Shawshank reigns supreme is the nebulous world of the IMDB top 250, where online ratings have kept it at #1 for years. It also routinely tops all-time polls by resources like Empire Magazine and Showcase Cinemas, suggesting that people who love movies really love Shawshank. In other words, it’s the people’s champion, if by the people we mean the predominantly heterosexual white male cinephiles who also laud the likes of Star Wars, Fight Club and The Godfather.
So what is it about this movie that places it above all others in this demographic? Is it the triumph of the human spirit embodied by Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) in his survival of and ultimate escape from the prison system? Is it a film about friendship, and the often unspoken bonds of affection between straight men? Or do people just really like the sound of Morgan Freeman’s voice?
We don’t know, and frankly we’re probably not all that qualified to answer, but when we decided to embark on a Stephen King mini-series, we knew we couldn’t overlook a one-off movie this impactful. So we recruited Harry’s older brother and general friend of the podcast Sam Chappell to join us for a deep-ish dive into the John Lennon’s Imagine of movies. Along the way, we discuss religious undertones, deus ex alibis, the inevitable Orange Is The New Black comparisons and more, before subjecting Frank Darabont’s celebrated adaptation to the ultimate screen test – trial by theoretical sequel.
You can download or stream our Shawshank Redemption episode right now using the links at the top of this blog post, or by searching for Beyond The Box Set on your preferred podcatcher. If you like what you hear, please hit subscribe to receive a new episode episode every Friday morning, and if you’d like to leave us a rating and review, we’d much appreciate the feedback.
Next week, we continue our trip into the KCU (King Cinematic Universe) with a somewhat less acclaimed adaptation that also marked the writer’s directorial debut – and swansong. Until then, happy listening and remember – some birds aren’t meant to be caged…