"The Shawshank Redemption" is a film beloved by millions; a modern classic whose twin peaks of gritty realism and transcendent hope continue to inspire movie-goers the world over. In this short book, Dr Mark Kermode goes some way into unpicking the film's almost universal appeal, with a healthy dose of analytical criticism thrown in along the way.
The book reads like a dissertation, helpfully illustrated with with full colour screen shots of relevant scenes from the movie (as do all 'BFI Film Classics' books). Broadly following the chronological order of the movie as the anchor for his analysis, Kermode focuses a lot on the Christian iconography used throughout as well as the idea of cinema as an alternative religion, offering some interesting textual observations. Though I felt he went a little too far in making some points (e.g. that Andy procuring beers for his inmate buddies whilst tarring the roof of the prison building is a Last Supper/Communion symbol - something I found a bit of a stretch) he does offer a number of interesting interpretations which I think genuinely add something to decoding this genuinely enthralling film.
On a practical note, this book is written in rather scholarly language which may not to be everyone's tastes. That said, if this is not something that bothers you there is much to take away from Kermode's arguments, even if you don't agree with everything he says. Recommended.
on 21 May 2015
Used this for my AS Film studies revision. It was recommend by my teacher, and I found it certainly to be useful. For film studies, there are 3 sections (A, B and C). This book was ideal for section C, as the book does a deep analysis on some of the contexts in the Shawshank redemption (my main case study). For section C, you need to do a micro analysis, and this book certainly helps with that, going over the cinematography, sound and mis-en-scene.
Overall, I'd certainly recommend this for anyone studying Shawshank for AS film studies or media studies. This is a great book to get some ideas, which will hopefully get you some extra marks in the exam.