The Shawshank Redemption

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced, DD 2.0 mono
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - Dolby Digital Egypt
Year Released 1994 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 136:29 minutes Other Extras Menu Audio
Scene Selection Audio & Animation
Picture Gallery (22)
Featurette (5:26)
Cast & Crew Interviews
Cast Biographies
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (79:47)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Frank Darabont

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tim Robbins
Morgan Freeman
Bob Gunton
William Sadler
Clancy Brown
Gil Bellows
James Whitmore
RRP $34.95 Music Thomas Newman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    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!

Transfer Quality


    Critiquing the video quality of superb transfers like this one is quite difficult - how many ways can you say "there were no flaws"? The quality of the transfer matches the quality of the movie, and is of reference quality.

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

    The transfer is clear and sharp throughout. Shadow detail is superb, with fine details being visible in the shadows at all times, expect when they were intentionally left dark. There was no low level noise.

    The colours are perfectly rendered. The drab atmosphere of the prison environment is nicely portrayed with detailed greys and blacks and a muted colourscape whilst at the same time retaining natural and true skin tones. Shots of the outside world are vibrantly coloured and make for a vivid contrast between the colourscape within and without the prison.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen. Film-to-video artefacts were trivial and the only one worth mentioning was some aliasing on the grille of the bus entering Shawshank Prison. Film artefacts were rarely seen. There was a very minor burst of film artefacts approximately half-way through the movie that will most likely pass you by, but it was otherwise a very clean transfer.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring at 79:47, during Chapter 14. It is minimally intrusive.


    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.

    The dialogue was always audible, clear, and easy to understand. In particular, Morgan Freeman's voice-overs are all well-recorded and easy to understand.

    There were no audio sync problems.

    The musical score by Thomas Newman is nicely matched to the on-screen action. It is generally a slow-moving, sonorous score which provides an ideal accompaniment to the actions on-screen, whilst never calling attention to itself.

    The surround channels had only subtle usage for this movie, which was predominately a dialogue-driven front hemispheric sound mix. Occasional crowd ambience and music made their way to the rear but that was about all.

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


    This disc has a fair selection of extras, none of which are particularly inspiring.

Main Menu Audio

Scene Selection Animation & Audio

    The inclusion of Scene Selection Animation was a pleasant surprise, and is only seen rarely in Region 4.

Dolby Digital Egypt Trailer


    Note that if your DVD player is set to 4:3 Pan & Scan this menu will display with the sides cut off and the menu highlighter will not be visible. You can still navigate blind, however. To display this menu correctly, your DVD player needs to be set to 4:3 Letterbox mode or 16:9 Wide mode.

Picture Gallery (22)

    A sequence of still production shots, mildly interesting.

Theatrical Trailer

    This appears to have been sourced from an analogue video master based on the low-level and chroma noise exhibited by this trailer.

Featurette (5:26)

    Standard "Electronic Press Kit" fare.

Cast & Crew Interviews


Cast Biographies

R4 vs R1

    The Region 1 version misses out on;     The Region 4 version misses out on nothing, however there is nothing compelling about either version. The Region 1 version was widely touted before its oft-delayed release as having an audio commentary by Morgan Freeman which sadly never eventuated.


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

    The video is of reference quality.

    The audio is of very good quality.

    The extras are ho-hum.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
9th February 2000
Addendum 22nd February 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Start SD-2010VNK, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer