If you’ve ever watched The Shawshank Redemption, you’ll remember the scene where Red (played by Morgan Freeman) reads a letter of hope, sitting under a big Oak tree in the middle of a grain field.
That Oak became a destination where people would go to in order to pay homage to the sentiment of that letter. Last week, the Oak died a natural death, and the response was as if a beloved grandparent had died: many travelled there to leave flowers and mementos. It means that much to so many – that message of hope.
Like millions of others, it’s one of my favorite movies. I watched it again last night. Because I’ve watched it a few times, I’m no longer shocked at the ugliness and despair and desperateness that is also in the movie. But I am – every time – taken by the love story between two men; the deep friendship that developed through the story, and the life-sustaining hope that love generated.
As one of the two leading characters – Tim Robbins, who plays Andy – noted in an interview, it’s rare to see or even read a love story about this kind of friendship between men. And this is a love story. It doesn’t involve sex, romance, violence, caper, buddy picture, or anything other than a deepening mutual care and regard. There are so few role models for men these days that show such love.
Both men and women, young and old, have written that this movie shored them up during difficult times, helping them maintain hope that things would get better, even when they felt things never would.
One of the key moments in the movie is when Andy’s last hope of getting a new trial is destroyed by the warden. As he talks about it with Red, he says: I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really: get busy living, or get busy dying. He got busy living, inspiring Red – and many of us in our darkest moments – to do the same.
The message is: if you have hope and persistence, you can eventually find your place in the sun.
People feel trapped all the time. You don’t need the brick, the mortar, the bars to be in prison.
Kimberley – How do I regain my strength and hope?
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