Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has delivered an impressive slate of home releases so far throughout 2021, from new theatrical films to restoring classics. None, however, is likely to surpass the excitement surrounding the upgraded re-release of one of the most beloved films of all time.
For fans of “The Shawshank Redemption,” there are only two things left to do: get busy living, and get busy buying – this 4K home release, that is.
Sitting atop IMDb’s Top 250 list with a 9.2 audience rating and ranking as the 13th best Narrative Feature of All Time on Letterboxd, the seven-time Oscar nominee is one of the few works capable of bringing the film community together unanimously. Telling an emotional and inspiring tale of hope and friendship in the face of despair, it doesn’t feel like a coincidence for “Shawshank” to come at a time like this.
The film’s 2008 Blu-ray release was enough to hold fans over when it first arrived, but now that edition will be long forgotten thanks to the stunning quality and clarity of this 4K Ultra HD upgrade. Legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins’ work can be fully appreciated with crystal-clear detail here, and the Blu-ray disc included in the combo pack feels like a waste of space. On the sound front, the improvements are not as dramatic as seen with the video, yet they are still a cut above past versions. For a film that earned Oscar nominations for Best Sound and Best Score, the audio is just as important as the video, and this release doesn’t disappoint.
The only disappointment comes for viewers who were hoping to see a crop of new bonus features on the new release. Instead, everything is previously released, as both discs come with an audio commentary track, and the Blu-ray disc comes with all the same extras as the 2008 release – which actually stem from the 2004 DVD release.
Still, for fans who haven’t checked them out before, there’s plenty to dig into here. Let’s take a look.
Special Features on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and Digital
- “Hope Springs Eternal: A Look Back at The Shawshank Redemption” – This 32-minute documentary is one of two on the home release, and was created specifically for the DVD release back in 2004. Looking back on the film’s 10th anniversary, writer-director Frank Darabont, stars Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, and the rest of the cast and crew reflect on the film’s growing legacy, and dive into its inception and production.
- “Shawshank: The Redeeming Feature” – Another documentary, “The Redeeming Feature” comes in at 48 minutes and covers similar territory to “Hope Springs Eternal.” More emphasis is placed on the legacy of the film, how it came to be so highly-revered, and why it still sticks with viewers to this day.
- “The SharkTank Redemption” – Not many prestige films are willing to include a parody right alongside the real deal, but “Shawshank” is – especially considering the gag stars Freeman’s son. The spoof imagines a Hollywood agency as the prison, in which Alfonso Freeman is doing time as an assistant.
- Storyboards – “Bogs Takes a Fall” and “New Fish Arrive”
- Commentary by writer-director Frank Darabont
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.