Shawshank Redemption

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3 1/2

Content: -2 1/2

In 1949, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a young successful banker, is wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and sent to the Shawshank Prison in the state of Maine. Being introspective and intellectual, he doesn't mix much with the prisoners in the first few years. Unfortunately, a vicious homosexual and his cohorts attempt to brutally sexually assault him on several occasions. Eventually, he develops a friendship with a gentle black man called Red (Morgan Freeman), and others. He also becomes a favorite with the guards and the warden because he advises them on personal financial and tax matters. He goes too far, though, when he helps the warden embezzle some prison funds. But Andy has a long range escape plan and the movie moves toward an exciting, surprise ending. Although SHAWSHANK is set in the frequently violent and obscene environment of a prison, it has a softer theme of hope, friendship and sensitivity. Some are already speculating it will be nominated for best picture of the year.

Occasionally, the guards beat prisoners so brutally they are killed or maimed for life. When Andy is attacked by a group of vicious homosexuals, he is beaten, kicked and threatened with a knife . Not surprising, obscenities and profanities make up a major part of the prisoners' vocabulary. Most of this is a realistic portrayal of life in some maximum security prisons, but the vile behavior and language is disturbing. Also disturbing is the portrayal of the corrupt, sadistic warden as a Bible quoting, fanatical Christian. However, his religiosity could be interpreted as a cover up for his corruption and cruelty.It is unethical for Andy to help the warden embezzle prison funds and plan to escape illegally, but he only tries his escape plan when the warden refuses to help him prove his innocence. Andy develops a close, caring friendship with Red who is both his benefactor and confidant. Most of all, Andy never gives up hope that he will someday be free, and hope becomes the principal theme of the film. Although the violence and language in SHAWSHANK might be justified on the basis of realism, its profanity (taking the Lord's name in vain) cannot, and its brutality and obscenities are unnecessarily intense and graphic.

Preview Reviewer: John Evans
Columbia Pictures, 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (29) times-Mild 6, Moderate 23

Obscene Language: Many (78) times (f word 31, s-word 39, other 8)

Profanity: Many (16) times - Regular (J,GD)

Violence: Several times - Mostly Severe (guards brutally beat prisoners;prisoners beat others; homosexual assault; closeup of shoot-killing; graphic shooting suicide)

Sex: Implied once (Passionate love making foreplay)

Nudity: Near nudity several times (Scantily clad women in posters)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (references to sex)

Drugs: Few times (whiskey and beer drinking)

Other: Evil man shown as Bible quoting Christian; friendship among prisoners; prison officials and guards portrayed as corrupt and sadistic)

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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