Over the last few years, audiences have become captured by Stephen King adaptations. It and It: Chapter Two were both massive titans of the box office, reigning in favourable reviews, as well as millions and millions of dollars. Following those films were Doctor Sleep and Pet Sematary, which didn’t quite reach the financial success of Pennywise’s clowning horrors. Despite that, the marketing of these films centered Stephen King’s name to promotional materials, recementing his place as an influential figure for a new generation. The history, however, of Stephen King films is much longer than those released in the 2010s.
While the most famous King adaptation is probably The Shining (ever heard of it?), The Shawshank Redemption remains one of the most critically respected of the bunch. Though the box office opening was disappointing, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and also earned recognition at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. Apparently, the film is quite close to our hearts in Aotearoa too, voted New Zealand’s favourite film in 2015.
Watching the film now, the cinematography is still pretty captivating and, at points, brutal. Of course, as with any King story there’s a generous helping of exploitative imagery, which can be painful to watch. However, the anxieties explored about prison and hopeful resolution are still especially relevant, and make a 2021 rewatch all the more compelling.