Yesterday I just watched “The Shawshank Redemption” again.
I first read this when it came out as a short story in Different Seasons and that must have been in the early 80’s. I loved the story and loved the film when I saw it first on video (remember videotapes ? ;) ) so when Rich sent this to me as the newly released DVD with 2 discs of extras, I was really looking forward to it.
This DVD set has an abundance of extras, and I very nearly watched some – both before and after I watched the film itself ….. but I don’t know if I want to.
The beauty of a book is that you put all your own imagery into the story – the people, voices, sounds, events all are played out inside your head. The wonderful thing about this adaptation – unlike so very many – is that at least for me, everything translated perfectly. When I first watched it and when I watch it now, nothing jars, nothing “doesn’t fit”, it all works perfectly for me. Even those events added by Frank Darabont add to the story, flesh it out, give it depth, stay consistent. So when I watch the film, I can again put my thoughts into the film, the characters, the scenes. It’s simply a film I cannot fault.
But then there are these extras …..
I’m tempted to watch because I would like to see more of the film-making, more of the characters, hear the words of Frank Darabont as he gives a commentary, but part of me says that as much as I would like this, the effect would be to adversely affect my enjoyment of the film.
I have my own imagery even while watching the film. I see my own reasons for certain things, my own interpretation of what may be happening and why, so do I need the actors and director telling what they thought ? How they used their skills to bring their vision ? I know that I enjoy the final product, but do I need or want to know the journey that brought them there ? It’s like enjoying a magic show then being told how the tricks are done. It may add something in the very short-term (“I know how he does that!”) but in the end doesn’t it detract from the experience by putting something else where your own thoughts were ?
I have the extended verions of the first two films in the LOTR trilogy, and I’ll buy the last one on release. I have watched much of the extras with those films, but while Tolkien may well have had some political meanings buried in there, primarily it’s a fantasy story. As much as I like the films, I can’t invest the same emotion that I do with Shawshank. There are elements of Shawshank that I attach a lot of meaning to, lines of dialogue – “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’ ” – which may be trite to some, may be taken just in the context of the film for others, but for me they mean something else. Do I want to know what Darabont thought ? What Tim Robbins thought ? I don’t know as I do …
It’s like an artist deconstructing his lyrics – if you really like a track, then you put yourself in there, you direct the words to yourself, to others you know, love, hate – so does hearing what the artists say add to your enjoyment of the song ? Probably not, it’s more likely you will respond with a “Noooooo” than nod in agreement.
Visions. We all have visions. We might all agree on the view, but maybe not on the angle.