Last week I gave my better half a lesson is classic film culture. After lending him the DVD of the infamous Shawshank Redemption five years ago, he finally got round to watching it; and quite frankly it blew his socks off. If you’ve never seen the film then you are truly missing out on what can only be described as cinematic genius and I don’t mean the visual effects, or the dramatic soundtrack, or even the star studded cast, because really all of these things are absent. No I’m talking about the plot, yes this is a film which actually has a story to tell, characters to fall in love with, and an ending worth getting to.
We start at the scene of a double murder, followed quickly by Andy Dufresne being sentenced, jailed and arriving in his new home; the scene is set. We are then introduced to the group of characters of which the film revolves and are soon to find that the beautiful voice of Morgan freeman will be narrating us through the film. Strange concept I hear you think? And so it sounds, but in fact it works beautifully, the soundtrack is very minimal, with more diegetic sound than none, making the film feel more realistic. We follow the characters as they live out their lives in the big house, deal with the hierarchy of the guards and make a good situation out of a bad.
The worry for most people when they come across Shawshank is the commitment that has to be made, two and a half hours is a very long time (or at least it was in 1994when Shawshank was first released) to sit and watch a film which doesn’t have the visual effects to distract you. But there is no need to fret, the beauty of Shawshank is that it swoops you up, draws you in and engulfs you into a beautiful story, which, despite not being fast paced, makes you forget that times exists. Only when the film finishes do you realise how long you have in fact being sitting in front of the T.V. Now for me, this is a major accomplishment considering there is little to go on in the way of distractions. When was the last time a film’s storyline gripped you so much you were unaware of the concept of time?
I feel as though these days there are no classic films being made, yes we have the likes of Skyfall and The Avengers which are both visually stunning, but the story lines? Are they really that fantastic? Will we really remember the story for years for come? I doubt it very much, I barely remember the point of Dark Knight Rises and that came out a matter of months ago. What is it with films these days? It’s as though we’ve forgotten the true meaning of films, instead of the telling of a story we get brain washed by flashy stunts, visual effects and the fact that half of Hollywood has teamed up to give us the latest blockbuster.
Where have the films like Shawshank, and Forrest Gump gone? The ones that actually deserve the Oscars they are nominated for; the ones we can watch over and over and repeat the storyline years after the release date? I’m not saying the new films we have now are bad, not at all, but it just feels like directors and producers are trying to put as many visual effect as possible into every film they make. And due to this, visual and sound effects have become the norm.
It saddens me greatly, as does the world’s current pace that we no longer have the story lines to love.
‘I hear you’re a man that can get things’