Shawshank Redemption – From an initial box-office flop to the best movie of all time


Well-known as the #1 film on IMDb’s top 250 list at the moment, Shawshank Redemption, little did everyone know, was actually a box-office bomb when it was released.

But just as the good wine which is getting better with time, the movie gradually won audiences’ heart and yes beat those world-renowned Oscar winners namely The GodfatherStar Wars – The Empire Strikes Back, even Pulp Fiction, and Forrest Gump to became the movie holds the highest score on (the most reliable movie rating website).

On the day the movie hit the theatre, it failed to meet the expectations of its debut. And according to Box Office, the movie only earned $58 mil in total, far less than Pulp Fiction ($213,9 mil) which was released at the same time. So the question is how did a film initially overlooked by so many audiences now become such a massive hit?

Go back to 23 years ago when the film was first released, it actually was greeted with many positive critical responses and received up to seven nominations at Academy Award Oscar 1994 including Best Picture.

However, Shawshank Redemption bombed to make the audience get interested in the story of an innocent man who was sentenced to life for the murder of his wife and her lover.

And it also failed at Oscar losing all the nominations to game-changer Pulp Fiction and another masterpiece Forrest Gump – Two biggest Oscar winners in 1994.

Even though the film was thought to be soon faded as it won nothing at both Oscar and audiences’ heart, Shawshank Redemption turned out to be the most popular rental film in 1997. And thank the coming of the Internet age, the movie’s fan base was nurtured as time went by.

With a 9,3 score on IMDb from nearly 2 million voters, Shawshank Redemption has become a phenomenon. The movie has been standing still on the top for ages and it seems that the movie would not easily or soon be usurped the throne by others.

The movie, to me, worths its journey becoming the best movie of all time today. The friendship of the main character Andy (played by Tim Robbins) and Red (played by Morgan Freeman), definitely gave us so much feel.

One is a vice president of a bank who was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t do. The latter is a hardened lifer who has been staying in the jail long enough to love being a prison more than a free man. These two formed a new romance which was said by Vanity Fair magazine as “a relationship movie for men”.

2 hours long without any climax, sex scenes, and no CGI involved, but the movie, in the end, left us with so many powerful messages about hope, self-belief, and friendship.

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing never dies”, said Andy to Red. That hope keeps Andy staying strong and stainless in a place full of sins. The fact that Andy didn’t flow the crowd in Shawshank but bringing new wind to them instead makes him a special one.

And while other prisoners just go angry, cannot accepting that harsh fact, Andy remains calm and thinks as a free man. Shawshank might take physical freedom from him but they find no way to imprison his mind.

Others, in contrast, are enslaved both physically and mentally by Shawshank. In another word, said by Red, they are institutionalized. Brook, an old man who spent most of his life working in Shawshank’s library, is a case.

The detail he commits suicide after acquittal is so sad. Being a prison for too long makes Brook find himself unfit with the outside. He lost his hope believing that there is no way for him to live the rest of his life meaningful like those “good old days” in Shawshank.

But Andy is different, he nurtures his belief that he belongs to the outside. He keeps it in my mind and he works for it every day, every day with tiny effort.

And with what he had done, we have Red who finally is acquitted by saying the naked truth after five times having rejected. And Red didn’t put an end to his life just by hanging himself to death but having a happy ending.

“Get busy living or get busing dying.”

I gave my bow down to genius Stephen King for writing out this masterpiece but we also have to thank director Frank Darabont and all the actors in the movie for bringing this work to the live-action movie so smoothly.

Everyone just nailed it completing their role perfectly. It is so sad to me that the movie didn’t win any Oscars but it’s heartwarming to know Hollywood has this masterpiece and people still remember it no matter how old the movie gets.

And Shawshank Redemption – the movie that won nothing at the Oscar 1994 but has a huge and long-term impact on audiences, fair enough to say, is the greatest non-Oscar winner.


2 responses to “Shawshank Redemption – From an initial box-office flop to the best movie of all time”

  1. Joya Derenzi Avatar
    Joya Derenzi

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for your provided information.

  2.  Avatar

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