The Shawshank Redemption remains one of the all-time great films. Everyone knows this. Really, there’s not much more that can be said about Frank Darabont’s astonishing 1994 masterpiece that hasn’t been said already. Everything about the flick, namely the thoughtful screenplay (adapted from Stephen King’s short story), wonderful performances, solid direction, and beautiful Thomas Newman score, combine to deliver a monumental cinematic achievement that has yet to reveal any signs of wear and tear.
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I’ve owned Shawshank in a variety of formats dating back to the VHS copy that released following the film’s middling theatrical run, followed by the bland single-disc DVD release that contained (from recollection) the film and a theatrical trailer, and the 2004 two-disc special edition that featured a commentary by Darabont, a couple of documentaries, some interviews, trailers and a curious spoof titled “The Sharktank Redemption” starring Morgan Freeman’s son.
Honestly, the main draw of the 2004 special edition for me was Drew Struzan’s gorgeous cover design. Everything else was fairly rudimentary. The special features were surprisingly dull for such a magnificent film — though, really, what do you expect from a production based entirely in a prison? — and Darabont’s commentary, while insightful, doesn’t exactly grip the listener. Image and sound were on par for most DVDs of the time, and the Dolby 5.1 soundtrack was clear and concise.
The Shawshank Redemption 4K Special Features
- Commentary by Frank Darabont
- “Hope Springs Eternal: A Look Back at The Shawshank Redemption”
- “Shawshank: The Redeeming Feature”
- “The SharkTank Redemption”
- Stills Galleries
- “Bogs Takes a Fall” Storyboards
- “New Fish Arrive” Storyboards
Let’s get the disappointing part out of the way, Shawshank arrives on 4K packing the same features as the 2004 release — yawn — and a bland cover design that eschews Struzan’s artwork in favor of a still from the film.
Yet, the new 4K transfer offers fans the greatest presentation of Darabont’s masterwork. Roger Deakins’ moody cinematography really comes through this time around while details, mostly background elements, pop like never before.
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Since Shawshank lacks anything in the way of explosions or action sequences, it’s hard to gauge whether the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is any better than its DVD counterpart. I mean, the flick sounds great, and die-hard audiophiles will likely notice the subtle changes in this new iteration, while your average moviegoer will fail to process the newer sound elements despite the work put in.
So, is this new version of The Shawshank Redemption worth purchasing? Absolutely! While lacking new bonus material, the 4K transfer more than justifies the purchase. The film looks glorious, which only adds to its overall quality. Really, though, I shouldn’t have to convince you to purchase The Shawshank Redemption. It’s near-perfect and worth owning in the best format possible.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 10 equates to “Masterpiece.” This is the rare release that transcends genre and must be experienced by all fans of the medium.