The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Not your archetypical Stephen King story, The Shawshank Redemption represents one of a handful of stories where the 'king of horror' leaves the supernatural behind. This means more space for his clever narrative, sense of scenery, in-depth knowledge of settings, and – above all – characters.
Because there are few authors who write better characters than King. And in Shawshank this comes to prominence better than ever. There's a simplicity to our protagonists, Red and Andy Dufresne, but it's a not a banal simplicity. King's characters combined with the warm and dedicated acting from Freeman and Robbins make these figures identifiable and familiar. And director Frank Darabont examines what goes on behind the four walls of a prison in a universal and timeless tone. Without being deeply implicit, Shawshank manages to parallel a wide range of emotions, situations and relations through the backdrop of captivity.
The Shawshank Redemption is sentimental and uncomplicated, but also clever, nuanced and extremely well-progressed. Narratively, stories can hardly be told better. The film was one of the best paced and most rewarding films of the decade, and it elevated both Darabont, King and the two leads into the major league of film. Shawshank received seven Academy Award nominations, but no statuettes, in what I like to call the golden year of modern cinema.