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‘Shawshank' Director Took Time to Perfect Commentary

6 Oct, 2004 By: Fred Topel

Writer/director Frank Darabont did not purposely wait for the 10th anniversary of The Shawshank Redemption to create the special edition, streeting this week. His work schedule simply kept him from attending to the DVD. The anniversary inspired him to set aside the time it would take to do a special edition right.

“We could have done an indifferent one [earlier] I'm sure, but on stuff like a director's commentary, I don't want to just toss it off in an afternoon,” Darabont said. “I know that a lot of people do that, but I really wanted to give it its due, and in order to really do the commentary right, I needed a week.”

Darabont spent that week recording a session and then scrutinizing the recording. He picked out dead spots or poorly told anecdotes and went back into the studio to rerecord those sections.

“I don't like commentaries where there are too many dead spots because it just makes it seem like they didn't really have anything to say,” he said. “So, I wanted to fill those gaps and really come up with something worthwhile. If somebody's been interested in listening to what I have to say about this movie and waiting for 10 years, I want to make it of value, if not for the money at the very least for the time.”

The DVD also includes the parody short film, The SharkTank Redemption, which re-creates many of Shawshank's key moments in the setting of a Hollywood talent agency.

“A few years ago, I got a message from somebody — it might have been from the filmmakers Doug and Natalie Van Doren who made the movie — that they had made this parody film of Shawshank and would I mind taking a look at it,” he said. “And when I did take a look at it, I was just absolutely tickled by it. And so when it came time to do the DVD, I was thinking, ‘Okay, let's be completists. Let's toss that on there, too.’

The DVD also features two interview documentaries, a “Charlie Rose Show” group interview, a still gallery and storyboards. There are no deleted scenes included. Darabont had a few, particularly featuring Morgan Freeman's character having a hard time adjusting to life outside of prison, but felt that point was made clear in the finished film.

“The audience was so far ahead of me on that at that point in the movie, because they'd seen Jim Whitmore go through it,’ he said.

At last month's event to celebrate the anniversary release, Darabont noted he has a love-hate relationship with video. He acknowledged that most people would not have seen Shawshank, his first film, which grossed just $18 million at the box office in 1994, without video; he said, “We love the DVD, but it's not the same as the movie.”

Although he said the title sold a million units on video last year, he still marvels at “how much more you get when you're shining light through a projector and celluloid.”

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