Monday, April 21, 2014

Dear Jodie - S is for The Shawshank Redemption

Dear Jodie,

When you get a chance, check the Internet Movie Database. The number one movie of all time is The Shawshank Redemption.

With reason.

The story is compelling.  Here is a stoic soul wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, and is sentenced to prison for a long, long time. 

It's a story of the bonding of two men, Andy and Red played respectively by Tim Robbins and the amazing Morgan Freeman, one of my all-time favorite actors.

It's a story of life in prison, and how prison can affect the soul.

I want to focus on a supporting character, though.

The character of Brooks Hatlen, the elderly prison librarian, brilliantly portrayed by the wonderful character actor James Whitmore, taught me so much. When the system released Brooks they, without question, believed it to be kind and forgiving and merciful. But they cruelly tossed an old man, who had been imprisoned for fifty years, into a world he had never seen, or known, or could possibly adapt to without help . . . that no one was willing to provide.

Before I saw this movie my old religion indoctrinated me to believe suicide to be wrong. A priest I saw once stated categorically that suicide was a coward's way out of life's difficulties and a one-way ticket to hell.

Damn, was I misguided!  Damn, was I wrong!  Damn, was I a fool to believe any of that!  That priest had never walked in the shoes of those with no hope.

Watching The Shawshank Redemption for the third time, as Brooks mounted the table, ready to kick it out from under him, rope around his neck, I reached down to a place I had never been and asked, "What would you have done different?"

When the answer dawned on me, "Nothing," . . . well, I think I have been a kinder person, a more understanding person since.  I hope I have been anyway.

And now I believe that the good lord my mother taught me to say my prayers to would understand Brooks and those real life souls like him . . . those with no hope.

I know that the movie is about the bonding of Andy and Red, and I love that relationship so much and how it develops through to its beautiful conclusion on the Baja beach. I love how Andy's ingenuity defeats an inherently cruel system.  I cried along with Red sitting in the field with the box Andy left for him suggesting that he find that beach.

Red knew that Andy offered him the means he needed to survive, so he would not wind up like Brooks.  Red's tears were for the new chance that he had, thanks to Andy.

My tears were for the same thing.

Brooks, though, is my first thought when I reflect on The Shawshank Redemption.

One of the ancillary joys I get from this movie comes when I hear people moan that Stephen King can't tell a real story.  All the man has to offer is monsters, they say. When I hear that I ask, "Have you seen The Shawshank Redemption?"

"AHHHH!!!  YES!!! I LOVE that movie."

"Stephen King wrote the story, and created those amazing characters."

"No way!"


This is another 10 out of 10 for me, Jodie!  I understand why it is the number one movie of all time according to the Internet Movie Database.

I guess my take on the movies relates to the personal experience movies give us.

Oh!  Click here to see my only entry in the Internet Movie Database . . . with one exception.  Another time for that exception.

What do you think about The Shawshank Redemption, Jodie?

Check out and "Like" our Facebook page Dear Rocky Dear Jodie: The Actor and The Psychologist At The Movies.



  1. This movie was perfection. I love your take on Brooks. I hadn't really thought about it from that perspective.

    1. Thank you! And thanks for reading!


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