The Shawshank Redemption: Special Edition (1994)

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

Released 11-May-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Frank Darabont (Writer/Director)
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Hope Springs Eternal: A Look Back At The Shawshank Redemp.
Featurette-Shawshank: The Redeeming Feature
Featurette-The Charlie Rose Show, With Darabont, Robbins & Freeman
Short Film-The Sharktank Redemption
Gallery-Photo-Stills
Storyboards
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 136:24
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (70:36)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Frank Darabont
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Tim Robbins
Morgan Freeman
Bob Gunton
William Sadler
Clancy Brown
Gil Bellows
Mark Rolston
James Whitmore
Jeffrey DeMunn
Larry Brandenburg
Neil Giuntoli
Brian Libby
David Proval
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Thomas Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 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 English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Shawshank Redemption is a rare film of genuine hope and friendship set within the walls of a maximum security prison. While the film is certainly entertaining on a simple dramatic level, the depth of characters and metaphorical storytelling combine to make this a truly unforgettable experience.

    Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is a quiet and unassuming banker whose life is turned upside down when he is convicted of the murder of his wife and her golf-pro lover in 1948. Despite the presence of some doubt the implication of guilt is too great, so Andy is sentenced to serve two life sentences in Shawshank prison, a hellish fortress of gothic magnitude, with wardens and guards to match the dark, unforgiving climate. In this arduous atmosphere of violence and corruption, Andy is forced to reach within himself and discover a resilient will to live that he would have never experienced otherwise. In time he is befriended by Red (Morgan Freeman), an Irishman adept at life on the inside who can smuggle goods into the prison. Together through good times and bad, their friendship deepens into one that ultimately transcends race, time, pain and fear - climaxing in a chance at freedom and a journey to find redemption.

    Stephen King's short story Rita Hayworth & Shawshank Redemption was first published in the book Different Seasons, a collection of King's short stories. The events surrounding this story's journey to the screen are almost as interesting as the film itself, and makes for interesting viewing. Having enjoyed many successes in adaptations of his work and keen to nurture rising talent, Stephen King made an offer to young filmmakers to acquire the rights to his short stories for a measly $1.00. Young graduate Frank Darabont was a taker, but sat on the rights for some time before submitting his screenplay. In looking for a studio to produce the film, Castle Rock was the first and only choice, having had some recent success with another adaptation of King's work, Stand By Me. Although it was well received by critics, The Shawshank Redemption was far from a theatrical success- in fact it only to recouped $18 million of its $25 million production costs at the box office. The film's release on home video boosted awareness greatly, and word of mouth led to it being one of the most rented titles in the 1990s. In recent years the film has appeared in numerous lists and top tens and has risen to become one of the most celebrated pieces of cinema in history.

    If you haven't experienced this film you're missing out on one of the most satisfying, emotional and entertaining films out there, and this excellent Special Edition package is a great place to start.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is presented in 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This film was screened theatrically at 1.85:1 and it would appear the matte has been opened a little on the top and bottom of the frame for presentation on DVD.

    There are several subtle differences in this transfer when compared to the first DVD release of February 2000, and the decision on which is superior will certainly be a matter of taste. The image of this new transfer is slightly softer overall but boasts greatly enhanced black levels, with a noticeable increase in depth of blacks and finer shadow detail. When viewed side by side with its predecessor this new transfer also has a much warmer tone and makes the original release appear cold and clinical, even washed out to a certain degree. Skin tones bear the most recognizable difference in colouring thanks to the elevated warmth and appear much more textured and realistic. Film artefacts and grain are greatly reduced this time around and the source is in better condition, so there is no doubt that this is an entirely new DVD transfer.

    The transfer is sharp and well textured. Shadow detail is quite good, as are the film's deep black levels. These are most visible in the film's dark opening scenes.

    Colours are rich and warm, with no bleeding or inconsistency to speak of. The warmer feel makes this new transfer my preferred of the two.

    MPEG artefacting is nowhere to be seen. This transfer shares the same average bitrate as the first release (6.4Mb/s) but is highly variable and often peaks over 10Mb/s. Film artefacts are completely absent and the slight telecine wobble that was present in the opening sequence of the original transfer has been rectified.

    Two English subtitle streams are included; one standard and the other for the hard of hearing. I viewed the film with the standard titles enabled and found them to be well timed and easy to read. Some phrases are simplified without any real detriment to the plot.

    Disc one is dual layered, with the layer transition placed during the feature at 70:36. The transition was transparent on my system, however given this placement it would appear that none of the silent fades to black in the film were utilised for this purpose. The extras disc is DVD5 formatted.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD. The default soundtrack is a problem-free English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s) track which appears to be identical to the original release. A commentary from director Frank Darabont is also available.

    The English dialogue is always distinct and easy to understand. Enunciation is great and audio sync is perfect.

    The use of the surround channels hasn't changed with this new edition; mainly consisting of the soundtrack score slightly spilling to the rears now and then. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel, while the front left and right channels deliver Foley effects and the bulk of the score.

    The score by Thomas Newman is subtle and uplifting. It's one of those soundtracks that doesn't draw a lot of attention, but is indispensable to the film's emotional triggers.

    Being a dialogue heavy film, the subwoofer doesn't get a lot of work to do. There are a few claps of thunder that seem to be carried nicely, but that's about it.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu system is 16x9 enhanced and features a few clips from the score. Both discs contain forced anti-piracy advertising that plays prior to the menu loading.

Disc One

Audio Commentary-Frank Darabont (Writer/Director)

    Frank openly confesses that this is his first attempt at a commentary and he doesn't do a bad job. He's easy to listen to and although much of the information presented is duplicated in the featurettes on disc two, this is still worthwhile for fans of the film.

Theatrical Trailer (2:04)

    This trailer is identical to the trailer included on the original edition, however this is sourced from film rather than analogue tape and is of much better quality.

Disc Two

Featurette-Hope Springs Eternal: A Look Back At The Shawshank Redemption (30:58)

    This is an informative featurette, including contributions from Stephen King and Frank Darabont regarding their initial hopes for the film, its screen adaptation and subsequent box office failure. This is combined with footage taken on set, and interviews that sieve thru each of the characters and their motivations. Some time is spent on the film's casting, production design and location scouting, while composer Thomas Newman guides us through his score. This featurette is presented in 1.33:1 full frame.

Featurette-Shawshank: The Redeeming Feature (48:15)

    This UK production explores the film's massive and broad fan base and how it relates to the disappointing theatrical run it received upon its initial release. Although it is very well made this comes across a little tabloid in its presentation, which put me off a bit. There are contributions from many cast and crew, critics and studio executives, some of which overlap information but there are a great many insights and opinions that make this interesting viewing nonetheless. This covers many anecdotes and facets of the production not touched upon in the first making of, including a quick tour of the gothic prison location in which we meet former inmates and wardens who share some of their real-life experiences. Also of interest is an appearance by IMDb founder Col Needham, speculating on why this film appears in so many top tens across the world. Unfortunately every phenomenon has its fanatics, and we are offered invaluable insight from fundamentalist Christians who over-analyze the film in an effort to find parallels with certain passages of scripture, which I'm certain would be sad if it wasn't so hilarious. Hosted by Mark Kermode, this production is presented in 1.78:1 with 16x9 enhancement.

Cast & Crew Interview-The Charlie Rose Show (42:18)

    Frank Darabont, Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins take seats at Charlie Rose's round table for this discussion, conducted for the film's tenth anniversary DVD release in the United States which was interestingly paired with a short theatrical re-release. Of particular interest is Darabont's discussion of his initial three hour cut of the film which he says was easy to whittle down to a more manageable length. This is very worthwhile viewing and presented in 1.33:1 full frame.

Short Film-The Sharktank Redemption (24:43)

    Shawshank meets an episode of The Office in this parody directed by Natalie Van Doren. Randy and Fred are a pair of struggling screenwriters who work for an agency and long to break away from their office cubicle existence. But first, they must choose to get busy living or get busy faxing! This hilarious tribute was made in 2000 and stars Morgan Freeman's son Alfonso. This is presented in 1.33:1 (full frame).

Still Gallery (7:28)

    The gallery is divided into five categories, each accompanied by a piece of the film's score. There's a lot of stills to view, detailing the production and vibe on the set.

Storyboards

    These are surprisingly detailed and cover two scenes from the film; New Fish Arrive (4:09) and Bogs Takes a Fall (4:39). All pages are 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

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

     Aside from an NTSC transfer, an additional French stereo soundtrack and some DVD-ROM weblinks, the Region 1 2-disc SE release is identical to our Region 4 release. A deluxe limited edition is also available in Region 1, comprised of the 2-disc SE, a soundtrack CD, a 96 page colour book and a film cel.

    Of particular interest is the 3-disc Region 2 UK release by Carlton. It includes the following extra features:

    Judging by Region 2 reviews, our video transfers may be identical. I'm going to give this to the Region 2, but I'd advise you to shop around if you want to make a purchase.

Summary

    The Shawshank Redemption is one of the truly great films of the 90s. This is the second release of this film on DVD in Region 4 and I'm happy to say that the contents certainly do befit the Special Edition label.

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The audio transfer is good.

    The extras are substantial and contain material that will interest newcomers and satisfy die-hard fans.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
R2 Edition - Anonymous
Video Transfer - Ron
R2 SE - aeon (if you must, read my bio)
4 and a half stars? - J Sebastian REPLY POSTED
Image quality in final scene - chaossphere