Frank Darabont's rousing prison drama The Shawshank Redemption has appeared on countless Best Movie lists, even though - in Darabont's words - "it landed with a dull thud at the box office" back in 1994. It eventually found its place in the hearts of millions through home video, and even scooped seven surprise Oscar nominations in 1995 - only to be overlooked once again in the gong-giving fever surrounding Forrest Gump. Ten years on, The Shawshank Redemption gets another shot at big screen glory, as well as this 10th Anniversary Special Edition DVD release.
Please Re-Release Me
Hope Springs Eternal is a retrospective documentary, tracing the rocky road from The Shawshank's inception as a short story by Stephen King, to box office flop, to one of the most beloved films of recent cinematic history. Cast and crew - including Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, and Frank Darabont - recall their roller-coaster journey through making the film, suffering cruel rejection, and eventually enjoying worldwide adulation. To give a sense of how gradual the path to success was, Robbins tells of people who would approach him on the street, calling out, "Hey, really loved that Shinkshank thing!"
SPOILER: Mark Kermode hosts the nearly hour-long TV special Shawshank: The Redeeming Feature, which poses the question: "What the hell is so great about The Shawshank Redemption?" Again Darabont and his cast of players offer their thoughts as well as throwing in a few amusing production stories, the best of which involves the famous escape scene through the sewage tunnel. Apparently the tunnel part was dandy, but Robbins refused to immerse himself in the muddy creek at the end of the pipe after a chemist certified the water "lethal". Naturally, in the end, Robbins just shut his mouth and dived straight in. What a guy!
Get Busy Talking
The Charlie Rose Show is a popular US chat show, with Darabont, Freeman, and Robbins appearing recently to promote this re-release. It's not the fluffy sofa-based chinwag you might expect, rather an unusually in-depth discussion (it runs at three quarters of an hour) that affords rare insight into the development process. For example, Darabont bought the rights to Stephen King's novella five years before he actually sat down and wrote the script "in eight weeks flat". You can hear more about that and how those memorable final scenes were re-cut for maximum impact in Darabont's typically loquacious audio commentary.
The cast interviews on Disc Three are also surprisingly substantial, with the longest of these clocking in at over half an hour. Of course that's the segment featuring Tim Robbins, who begins by talking about his feelings on initially reading a script that was being fought over by the likes of Tom Cruise and Nicolas Cage. Not surprisingly Robbins maintains that it was "the best script I ever read", while Morgan Freeman shows endearing modesty, saying, "After reading it, I was amazed I was even in the running for a part."
There's a whole host of other titbits on this three-disc edition, including the original behind-the-scenes featurette, original storyboards, and a gallery of memorable quotes. Finally, this wildly popular prison yarn gets to spread its wings on DVD.