The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 14-Feb-2000

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Egypt
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 136:29
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (79:47) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Frank Darabont

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tim Robbins
Morgan Freeman
Bob Gunton
William Sadler
Clancy Brown
Gil Bellows
James Whitmore
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $34.95 Music Thomas Newman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    For those of you who have read Michael's review, this will look familiar. Michael summed up this movie so perfectly that I decided (with Michael's permission) just to replicate his Plot Synopsis in this review.

   I envy those of you who haven't seen The Shawshank Redemption yet. You are yet to enjoy one of the best movies ever made. For those of you who are returning, there is plenty of subtlety here to enjoy again and again. This film combines a number of elements that all-too-rarely come together in Hollywood; a brilliant story, brought to life by brilliant performances from brilliant actors, brilliant direction propelling the story along at just the right pace, brilliant cinematography which is expressive in its own right, and a brilliant musical score underlining all the appropriate moments. Yep, you guessed it, The Shawshank Redemption is one of my favourite movies, and one which both myself and many other people were eagerly awaiting on DVD.

    Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is a banker. His wife is having an affair and leaves him. Both she and her lover are shot in circumstances pointing to Andy Dufresne as the perpetrator, and Andy is sentenced to life imprisonment at Shawshank Prison, despite proclaiming his innocence. Shawshank is a brutal prison. Warden Norton (Bob Gunton) believes in two things; The Bible and Discipline. Both are to be had aplenty within the walls of Shawshank Prison, with the discipline meted out by the brutal Captain Hadley (Clancy Brown).

    Andy Dufresne befriends "Red" (Morgan Freeman), a long-term inmate who can "get things", and theirs is a long and fruitful friendship.

    The Shawshank Redemption is not so much about life within the confines of prison as about the people within these confines and how they adapt and survive. This is one of the great strengths of this movie - it is about people whom we gradually come to know and care about, and the sometimes brutal atmosphere within which they survive.

    Both Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are absolutely perfectly suited to their roles, particularly Morgan Freeman. In my personal opinion, this is by far the best performance of Morgan Freeman's long and illustrious career, and how he was overlooked for a Best Actor Oscar for this role is beyond me. These two, however, are not the only stand-out performances in this movie; James Whitmore as Brooks is also worthy of particular mention in a magnificent supporting role.

    In short, if you haven't seen The Shawshank Redemption yet, see it!

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This is a magnificent video transfer, which falls short of being reference quality mainly because of two things - a slightly dark picture, and some minor but noticeable edge enhancement.

    It is presented at an aspect ratio of somewhere between 1.78:1 and 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture is extremely clear and sharp at all times, however there are a couple of scenes where some of the finer detail seems to come and go. These occurrences are very minor and are not noticeable on a TV set. There is no low-level noise present. Some minor edge enhancement was noticed in several scenes, but again it is very minor. I also found the picture brightness to be just a little on the dark side. If this bothers you, it can be easily fixed by just bumping up that brightness control ever so slightly. Just remember to put it back again once you've finished watching the movie.

    The colour, well what can I say? It was exemplary. The drab atmosphere of the prison environment is captured beautifully whilst retaining perfect skin tones. The shots of the outside world are deeply saturated, rich and vibrant.

    No grain was ever noticed.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. I noticed a couple of panning shots that seemed a little jerky, but after checking my VHS copy of this film, I concluded that this was caused by camera shake. Aliasing was pretty rare and was usually very mild when it did occur. The subject material and the sharpness inherent in this transfer would lend itself to aliasing being a real problem, but this artefact is well-controlled.

    Film artefacts are very rare and are always small and unobtrusive.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring at 79:47, during Chapter 14. There is a definite pause, but it is not too disruptive to the flow of the movie.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    This soundtrack is of very good quality.

    There are two audio tracks on this DVD; the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. I listened to the 384Kb/s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand, and was an exemplary example of how clear dialogue should be.

    There were no audio sync problems.

    The musical score by Thomas Newman is nicely matched to the on-screen action.

    The surround channels had only subtle usage for this movie. They were mostly used for music with the odd sound effect thrown in. The sound mix is predominantly front hemispheric since this movie is largely dialogue-driven. None of these problems are caused by the audio transfer itself, it's just how the studio decided to mix the sound.

    The subwoofer was used subtly to support the music but was not called upon to work very hard at all - it was simply not the sort of soundtrack that needed that much bottom end.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    This disc has a fair selection of extras, which I found reasonably interesting.


    The Menu is 16x9 enhanced with a black and white picture taken from the movie, set to the movie's theme music. The menu selections are; Play Movie, Scene Selections (24), Special Features and Biography menu. The inclusion of Scene Selection Animation and accompanying soundtrack is a very welcome feature on this disc. Village deserves to be commended on this point, which is a very nice touch.

Dolby Digital Egypt Trailer


Picture Gallery (22)

    A sequence of still production shots.

Theatrical Trailer (2:12 minutes)

    A rather average looking trailer, it appears to have been sourced from an analogue video master based on the low-level and chroma noise exhibited by this trailer. It is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced with a 192kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack.

Cast & Crew Interviews

    These are short interviews with the director Frank Darabont, producer Niki Marvin and some of the actors; Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, James Whitmore, Clancy Brown and Bob Gunton.

Featurette (5:26 minutes)

    The featurette is basically made up of snippets from the movie and from the cast and crew interviews. It is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced with a 192Kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack.


Some little tid-bits about the movie.

Cast Biographies

    This section contains Biographies & Highlight Filmographies for Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Gil Bellows and Clancy Brown.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version misses out on;     For once we get the Extras and Region 1 misses out. There is no question on this one folks, the Region 4 title is definitely the way to go.


    The Shawshank Redemption is a fantastic movie on a great DVD.

    This is a magnificent video transfer which falls short of being reference quality mainly because of two things; a slightly dark picture and some minor but noticeable edge enhancement.

    This soundtrack is of very good quality.

    This disc has a fair selection of extras, which I found reasonably interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Paul Williams (read Paul's biography)
Sunday, April 16, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-725, using Component output
DisplaySony Projector VPH-G70 (No Line Doubler), Technics Da-Lite matt screen with gain of 1.0 (229cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SV919THX
SpeakersFronts: Energy RVS-1 (3), Rears: Energy RVSS-1 (2), Subwoofer: Energy EPS-150 (1)

Other Reviews
Michael D's Region 4 DVD Info Page - Michael D (read my bio)
DVD Net - Steve K
DVDownUnder - Matt G
DVD 4 - Price P
The DVD Bits - Dean B
NZHT - Damon B
DVD-Max - Chris G
DVD-2000 - Daniel B
The Fourth Region - Roger (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)

Comments (Add)
Shawshank & Sleepy Hollow Technical Disc Problems - Sorrow (bio - mechanical existence)
re: technical problems - chaossphere