Monday, 16 March 2015

I Read... Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemtion

You know how they say that you should never watch the movie without reading the book first?  Let's just say that I was way behind when it came to Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.

I have taught the film The Shawshank Redemption several times.  It is clearly one of the best films out there, and I have never met a person who didn't love the movie.  I loved teaching it as a film study, not only because it is a great movie with so much complexity, but also because it hits all of my ideals when it comes to choosing a film for kids: most of them haven't seen it, it holds their interest, it gives them a ton to work with.  Of course, I knew that The Shawshank Redemption was based on Stephen King's novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, but it was never high on my list of books to read.  I spoke to a colleague recently, and she said that she had decided to teach the novella in conjunction with the film.  It was so successful that she decided that she would only teach the novella in the future, eliminating the film.  She said that her kids overwhelmingly preferred the book to the film.  This was not a group of academic students, so this really shocked me.  I knew that I had to get the novella.

Since Rita Hayworth is so short, it was easy to read in one night.  It was a great, quick read.  However, I think that my attachment to the film is too strong to choose the film over the book.  The images and voices were so strong in my mind that I couldn't stop picturing the actors as I read.  Even though Red is an Irishman in the novella, I kept picturing Morgan Freeman.  Not only that, but the film delved deeper into the storyline.  I found the resolution regarding Warden Norton far more satisfying in the film than in the novella.  I kept waiting for Red to say, "how often do you look at a man's shoes," but it never came.

Overall, if you're a fan of the film this is certainly worth a read.  It will cost you a few hours, tops, and it will give you an appreciation for what a great filmmaker can do with just a bit of good, solid source material.

Food for Thought... Can you think of any other films that were better than the book that they were based on?  The only other film that comes to mind for me is The Devil Wears Prada.

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