Saturday, April 12, 2008




THAT’S the name of the actual novella that the movie was based on, in a Stephen King collection of 4 such stories, ‘Different Seasons’. Three of them got made into movies, one was the ‘House on Elm Street, and there was the one recent movie where Johnny Depp played the writer … I have packed it away so I can’t grab it and get the title for you. Another, which I liked a lot and make ‘drops’ of, ‘The Sun Dog’. But this was the one that moved people, reaffirming the brilliance of Stephen King, especially when a director lets his work ‘drive the car’ (‘The Green Mile’, ‘Carrie’, ‘Misery’, and the TV mini-series ‘Salem’ Lot’ all get my seal of approval for excellent adaptations of King’s work, along with this). I think that it is interesting to note, that as popular a film ‘Shawshank’ is now, its release was quite a disappointment. It wasn’t until it spread by word of mouth on VCR that it grew into the movie that catapulted Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins into our consciousness (though ‘Easy Reader’ was always a star to me ..!).

The plot, like most of King’s story is fairly simple. My bud SD would call it a ‘love story’, and it is. It is the tale of wronged parties and an abiding friendship between two friends who are ‘redeemed’ through that love for each other …

… oh come on, that IS what they share, Andy Dufrense and ‘Red’. You don’t do what they did for each other without there being something so strong that not even the walls of a prison could break (prison walls didn’t break love in ‘The Crying Game’ either, but that is another entry ..!).

When Andy, who was a big time bank pooh-bah in another world, first came in to the ‘Shank, Red put his bet down on Andy being the first of the newbies to crack. Red lost that bet, and after that, he saw Andy a little differently. Andy, being a meticulous sort, kept to himself and Red respected that. Finally, Andy came to Red who was the ‘get it’ man on the yard, with a couple of simple requests. The first was for a rock hammer. Seems Andy collected rocks, and since he had the time on his hands, he would like to study the rocks on the prison yard.

The second, after he had studied the geology of the prison a bit, gave us the name of the movie. It was a poster of the beautiful Rita Hayworth.

During Andy’s stay, he was able to make use of the skills that he had gained on the outside, risking his life to give good tax advice, and then becoming the ‘prison accounted’, doing all the returns for the institution. It was a nice little set-up considering it WAS prison. Things changed when a young inmate who Andy helped get his G.E.D. came in with information that could PROVE his innocence and free him was murdered by the warden.


This is about opportunity. Andy’s plan had long been ‘in play’ and he worked at it quietly, beneath EVERYONE’S notice. When he saw his hope of freedom snatched away from him, whether it was perfect or not, he knew that the time for his plan was NOW. So he took careful preparations, giving Red a letter that he wasn’t to open until the time came. And he was off, implicating the wicked warden who was skimming money by using prison labor on the outside.

For Red, who had quite a long time left to serve, not hopeful of parole, the time got a little bit longer to serve. Oh, they’d tell stories about ol’ Andy, but it just wasn’t the same on the inside anymore. And now, when he had no use for freedom, he was given parole.

Adjusting to freedom was difficult. He didn’t fit in at work and he had many a Ny-Quil night in his little apartment. There was a former old inmate who couldn’t deal with not being anything out in the big cruel world, who was a someone on the inside …

Who would take the ‘final solution’ as a way out. Red had came to a similar conclusion, except …

… except a promise he made to a friend.

So he followed the instructions Andy left in his letter, and went to the obscure lonely tree, found money, a map and another letter, this one letting him know that there was indeed a place for him …

… in Mexico. With Andy.

At the end of his long journey, spending hours riding, searching the depths of his soul, following only his heart and love for his friend and trusting COMPLETELY in that love, he was off. When he finally reached the beach, spying Andy working on a boat, he could scarcely contain himself. As could Andy, as they ran to each other, two friends reunited.

I have had many, many experiences. I never chose to keep nick-nacks of them, had my wife any good sense, she could have done something like that for me. I was in the moment, and consumed by it. But one of the moments I wish to share with you, is that I had an experience like that, like Andy and Red.

When I was discharge, much like my enlistment, I didn’t let my family know. I wanted to surprise them. My Mother would later say that my Best Sister had been ‘predicting’ my return for that week, and I was sure not to slip up. I remember asking the cab to stop half a block down on the corner, so that I could surprise them when I …

“Mark! Mark!”, a voice shouted from behind. I turned to see who was calling my name, almost a block away. It was a tall, slender figure, and I did not recognize the person until …

“Mark, it’s me!! YOUR BROTHER!!”

He had grown SOOO MUCH in the time I was away, fairly towering over me! He went on to become a nationally competitive figure skater. I dropped my duffel bag, and ran to meet him halfway down the block! I know EXCATLY what the characters Andy and Red felt, because I lived a moment like that!

He was the first member of my family that I saw when I got home from my duty.


I already know that I will be accepted ‘as is’ when I get to my Father’s house. I have NEVER know anything less in his home, from step mother down through step sibs. I just hope to share in our memories, so that I can be in that moment too …

… if they can be reached!

Sure the neighborhood is ‘chippy’, but I DID grow up in Detroit, and my ‘Instincts’ remain set on Detroit, to hear Nebraska tell it! I will do just fine. I will even run in the pre-dawn, just like I did when I was far younger and prolly just as vunerable. Saying that I worry about being home is quite disingenuous. There are things about the Motor that is a little different, but for my money, there are areas in the Atl and in D.C. that can more than give Detroit a run for its money.

So of course, I am looking forward to being back home. If you can’t find yourself at home, then you are truly lost. And I DO expect to do just that!


toonguykc said...

We underestimate the concept of "home" and how important it is.  Speaking of underrated -- I still think "Pet Sematary" is an underrated King adaptation.  That movie scared me almost as much as the book did.


lv2trnscrb said...

I stopped reading Stephen King after Salem's Lot; that book scared me so much years ago; but I have seen a few of his movies; The Green Mile probably the one I enjoyed the most; I didn't realize that was what Shawshank Redemption was about; I'll have to check it out

was this the same brother who died last year who welcomed you home? I know you said one of your brothers was a figure skater before;

home is always good to go back to and always a place to feel welcomed; I don't physically have the home left I lived in, in the San Diego area, but going to my brother's who still lives down there, his place is home to me

enjoy the day