If you were to take a poll today and ask anyone from Gen X and back what they think of Shawshank Redemption, chances are you'd get an overwhelmingly positive response. The story of a banker convicted of a double homicide, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), maintains his innocence and finds a way of surviving 19 years of harsh prison life, all the while creating an unlikely bond with fellow convict Ellis "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman).
Thanks to cable networks like TNT, Shawshank's message about the enduring power of hope and friendship has found a special place in our nostalgia-loving hearts (not to mention our DVRs), but surprisingly, this wasn't always the case.
Upon its immediate theatrical release in the U.S. 20 years ago, the film didn't make a huge impression, except to film critics, who lauded it for its realism and existential motifs. In fact the American moviegoers' response was rather tepid, and the film barely made up for its production costs.
However, seven Academy Award nominations later and thanks to word of mouth, Shawshank eventually became one of the highest grossing movie rentals and most watched films on cable TV.
In honor of Andy and Red's 20th, we selected some of our favorite quotes from the film (some bold, some beautiful, and some... just downright funny):
WARDEN NORTON: I believe in two things: discipline and the Bible. Here you'll receive both. Put your trust in the Lord; your ass belongs to me. Welcome to Shawshank.
RED: I could see why some of the boys took him for snobby. He had a quiet way about him, a walk and a talk that just wasn't normal around here. He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place. Yeah, I think it would be fair to say...I liked Andy from the start.
ANDY: I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.
WARDEN NORTON: Lord! It's a miracle! Man up and vanished like a fart in the wind!
RED: Same old sh*t, different day.
CAPTAIN HADLEY: What is your malfunction, you fat barrel of monkey spunk?
BROOKS: Easy peasy japanesey.
RED: I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend.
ANDY: Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
ANDY: You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific?
ANDY: They say it has no memory. That's where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory.
RED: I find I'm so excited that I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at a start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.