It’s been a while since I first watched the Shawshank Redemption. My younger sister had never seen it so myself and the rest of the Holt family all bullied her into watching it, rather than letting her spend another evening dossing around on Facebook looking for entertainment and interest that never seems to arrive.

Shawshank is widely regarded as one of the best films of all time, it tops the IMDB 250, a list I think is largely reliable but conservative; spoiled mainly by those boring turds who have voted en-masse for Christopher Nolan films under the misapprehension that they are in any way interesting.

Though I personally think Shawshank is far from being the best film of all time (it’s not even the best Stephen King adaptation), it is on the whole pretty decent and since everyone in the world has seen it I thought it might be a good place to make a (long over-due) start for The Tear Blog.

The film was nowhere near as long as I remembered (it seemed to go on forever when I first watched it on Channel 4 over a decade ago, this is no doubt due to the advent of digital TV recorders and the ability to skip ad-breaks) Andy Dufresne’s stay in Shawshank breezes past, he and his black friend have many adventures.

CLOSEST I CAME TO TEARS:

The whole monologue about Brooks’ time on the outside and his inability to cope in the real world after having spent a life in prison is a masterclass in aiming a payload of sadness straight at the tear glands. His pathetically naïve and world weary tone in which he delivers his monologue is manipulative and effective, a great combination.

The knife is stuck in even further by the fact he has to release his pet crow, Jake, who Brooks hopes will visit him on the outside, but never does. I have noticed that old people having to release pets that they love but can’t keep any more is a recurring area of sadness that I respond to, so I will need to research other films which feature this.

His suicide and his carved message are pretty devastating. I felt my tear ducts swell and I shook ever-so-slightly, but I nevertheless managed to make it through the scene without shedding a tear. I was able to quickly consolidate my emotions and from then on it was plain sailing to the end of the film.

I am so steeled against the power of the scene now that I can make callous images on Paint like this:

WHAT STOPPED ME CRYING:

All the characters are  too saintly. Shawshank has basically one prisoner who is a baddie but he gets paralysed in the first half an hour or so and is never heard from again. After that you would think that the only people who get sent to prison are serene monks who listen to Mozart and love to read and better themselves. All the authority figures, however, are pure evil. Its that kind of dishonesty about prison life that made me not really care about the principal characters, give me Bad Girls any day, basically everyone was evil in that so at least there was a degree of equality.

Red and Andy are too purely good for me to care all that much for them as they seem to just gladly soak up any adversity that comes their way. Dufresne is the pudding-faced Christ and Red is the disciple who passes on the narrative of his friend’s never-ending good deeds and stoicism. At least Old Man Brooks tries to stab someone in order to stay in jail and debates killing his boss at the supermarket.

Dufresne is such a saint that he probably didn’t even try to have sex with Red in South America, even though Red was clearly obsessed with him… he was all Red ever talked about: “Andy did this…” “Andy did that…” GET A BOAT YOU TWO!


The image of Andy crawling through a pipe of shit and ‘coming out clean on the other side’ is a metaphor that could have worked on a number of levels… but no, the film just had to be about platonic friendship.

TEAR RATING:

Also, here’s a question: how did Andy place the blu-tack back on the corners of the Rita Hayworth poster?

If anyone has any suggestions for films where old people abandon their pets let me know.

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