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THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION ($20) could quite possibly be the best film adaptation of a (non-horror genre) Stephen King story. Like King's novella RITA HAYWORTH AND THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, the film tells the story of an innocent man who is convicted of murder and sentenced to Shawshank prison. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION stars Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne, the man unjustly convicted of killing his wife and her lover because of circumstantial evidence. Andy finds life very hard inside the walls of Shawshank, however he is able to trade upon his financial skills to gain the trust of prison officials. With that trust and through his tenacious nature, Andy is able to bring changes to the harsh prison, while winning the respect of his fellow inmates. I have oversimplified of the plot of THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION because this beautifully inspired movie must be experienced first hand. Not only do I highly recommend seeing this superbly acted and directed film, Stephen King's novella also qualifies as necessary reading. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION features a first rate cast that includes Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, Mark Rolston and James Whitmore.

Warner Home Video has made THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION available on DVD in a very good-looking wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The transfer is properly framed at 1.85:1 and delivers a crisp, clean and nicely detailed image. Occasionally, the image appears a tad soft or a bit grainy, but considering that the film is depicting dreary prison interiors, the transfer is an accurate representation of the film's original cinematography. Colors tend to be muted, except for a few well-saturated exterior sequences, which maintains the oppressive atmosphere of the film. Flesh tones appear relatively natural throughout the presentation and the film’s better-saturated hues are recreated without chroma noise or bleeding. Blacks are faithfully rendered and contrast is consistently good. The use of dual layer technology to maximize the data rate, ensuring that there is no noticeable evidence of digital compression artifacts on this DVD. 

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION has been made available with fine sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Since this basically a character driven piece, there is very little need for a flashy soundtrack. Instead, the mix delivers distinct channel separation in the forward soundstage and clean, intelligible dialogue. Sound effects are subtly deployed through all five discrete channels, including the split surrounds. The film's score is reproduced with a very nice musical quality, but never overwhelms any of the other sonic information. There is very little need for the bass channel during the course of the film, but it does come to life when required. A French Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles.

The interactive menus are rather basic, providing access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer.

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION is a wonderful, uplifting film that is well worth seeing for the first time, or revisiting on DVD if you have been fortunate to screen it in the past. Recommended.


The Shawshank Redemption



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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