Strange Brouhaha

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Shawshank Redemption: Special Edition DVD

<RANT MODE=ON REASON="Because I want to rant, damn you!">

So I see from the big media blitz that one of the worst movies of all time is getting the Special Edition DVD treatment. No, not "Barb Wire," which is a horrorshow all its own, but "The Shawshank Redemption."

Yeah, you heard me.

"Surely you jest!" you're saying. "That's one of the finest examples of moviemaking in the 20th Century right there! It was gorgeous-looking! What about that shot where the camera pulls back and the prisoners sort of just apparate out of the darkness of their cells?"

Shut up. You're right, it's actually a pretty good movie RIGHT UP UNTIL THE END. It's just a few minutes too long, you see, because somebody on that production wanted a free trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands, so they betrayed every single idea they had been working on throughout the entire script to shoot a scene with Andy and Red meeting up again on that beach.

When I saw the movie, that scene nearly made me pop a vein. I had been feeling pretty good up until that point, too, because I had been thinking that it was in fact a good movie and not at all a waste of however many minutes long it is. Now, whenever I see that movie mentioned, I see red.

"But we need that closure!" you protest. "We need to know if Red meets Andy...."

Shut the hell up. What you're not getting is that the movie (and the novella on which it's based, for that matter) ISN'T ABOUT ANDY. It's about Red, sitting in that prison, not giving a damn. It's not Andy's redemption the movie concerns itself with, it's Red's. At the end, once Red makes the decision that that old guy who hanged himself couldn't make--the decision to set HIMSELF free--and he breaks parole and hops the bus out of town, the movie is OVER. His story is OVER. It literally doesn't MATTER if he meets Andy in Mexico, or if the bus has a bomb on it that will arm itself once the bus hits 55mph and explode if the speed drops below 55, or if the bus sprouts fucking wings and flies off to goddamn DISNEYLAND. The bus is the literal vehicle, Andy Dufresne is the metaphorical vehicle, and RED is the traveler. The outcome of the journey doesn't matter, just that he's taking it.

I seriously thought the movie was over when we saw the bus pull away. I was getting ready to leave. That's how over it was. GAH!


This rant prompted by today's Daypass advertisement for the DVD. Feel free to register your displeasure and disagreement. Also feel free to complain that this is not the first time I have complained about this particular issue. But I felt cheated horribly by that movie, and I think those extra few minutes were the difference between an Oscar nomination and a win. (Actually, that's not technically true, since it was up against "Pulp Fiction" and "Forrest Gump" for Best Picture that year. Still, I think the Oscar argument in favor of the movie is strengthened with the removal of the coda, and I'd be tempted to choose it over those other two, especially since I didn't like "Forrest Gump" all that much.)


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