The Shawshank Redemption parents guide

The Shawshank Redemption Parent Guide

This movie is a cultural powerhouse thanks to a powerful, well-told story and convincing acting.

Overall C+

Convicted of murder, Andy Dufresne fears that what he learns about the crime in prison might get him killed.

Violence C-
Sexual Content C-
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is The Shawshank Redemption rated R? The MPAA rated The Shawshank Redemption R for language and prison violence

Run Time: 142 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

Following the brutal murders of his wife and her lover, banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of the crime and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in the notoriously tough Shawshank Prison. While Andy maintains that he didn’t commit the murders, he settles into prison life with the help of Red (Morgan Freeman), a fellow convict.

Even with a friend, prison is dangerous. Pursued by “The Sisters”, a gang of vicious rapists, and trying to avoid the wanton cruelty of the guards, Andy learns quickly that surviving in Shawshank is not guaranteed. The Warden, Samuel Norton (Bob Gunton), puts Andy to work, using his financial expertise to help him launder the money he skims off from his ongoing scams and bribes. While Andy’s work for the Warden offers him better opportunities inside, it also exposes him to even more risk. Andy has nothing but time, and he’s not about to let prison be the end of him…

There’s not much left for me to say about this movie. It is a cultural powerhouse, a film often mentioned when discussing the best films of all time. The way it succeeds, though, is what I think is most interesting about it. The Shawshank Redemption isn’t out to redefine filmmaking. It doesn’t trailblaze some new approach to filmmaking or storytelling; there are no revolutionary special effects or cinematic tricks. It simply takes the established methods of telling a compelling and emotional story and does so nearly flawlessly.

As far as parents or teachers are concerned, there is some negative content that should be considered before showing this movie to teens. Obviously, a prison film doesn’t show people at their best. Beatings, murders, suicides, rape, and a healthy helping of profanity are all issues here. The silver lining for parents is that, apart from the profanity, these are not positive or graphic depictions. Violence (particularly sexual violence) and drinking have consequences, and they aren’t shown in detail. While this film is hardly suitable viewing for children, older teens who like serious drama will probably find it interesting.

Gripping, surprising, emotional, and exceptional, The Shawshank Redemption is one of the few films that, years after release, remains popular and acclaimed. If you haven’t watched it, do yourself a favor and buckle in for a fantastic experience. If you have watched it, do yourself another favor and give it another look. I’ve seen this film half a dozen times, and I notice different details every time. There’s a reason this movie succeeded despite poor theatrical earnings – it’s just too good to ignore.

Directed by Frank Darbont. Starring Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins, Bob Gunton. Running time: 142 minutes. Updated

Watch the trailer for The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Shawshank Redemption rated R? The Shawshank Redemption is rated R by the MPAA for language and prison violence

Violence: There are references to murder. Several men are severely beaten, in one case fatally. There are several depictions of rape without graphic detail or on screen activity. A man hangs himself, and another shoots himself in the head.
Sexual Content: A couple are shown undressing while kissing passionately, and later having sex without graphic nudity or detail. There are references to sex and adultery. There are several instances of crude sexual language. There are several depictions of male posterior nudity in a non-sexual context. There are depictions of rape without graphic detail or on-screen activity.
Profanity: There are 34 uses of extreme profanity, 37 scatological terms, and frequent uses of mild cursing and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults are seen drinking, on one occasion excessively, and smoking cigarettes. There is a brief reference to marijuana.

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The Shawshank Redemption Parents' Guide

This film works around themes of hope, salvation, despair, justice, and yes, redemption. How do you think the film explores those concepts? Do you think some of them are handled better than others? If so, which ones and why? If not, how do you think the film manages to convey such complex themes so clearly?

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Frank Darabont has directed two other Stephen King adaptations, namely The Green Mile and The Mist. Other quality King adaptations include Stand by Me, Misery, The Shining, and Doctor Sleep. Classic prison films include movies like The Great Escape, Cool Hand Luke, The Last Castle, and Papillon.