No 4: Shawshank Redemption and Finding Nemo (Exploring my Top 10 favorite movies)

By Herman M. Lagon

THE VAST expanse of the film industry is akin to the ocean, deep and teeming with hidden wonders. Embarking on this cinematic journey, I’ve encountered tales from the heartwarming simplicity of “Magnifico” to the fiery spirit of “Heneral Luna,” the unsettling depths of “Joker” to the complex stratagems of “Ender’s Game.” Films like the deeply moving “12 Years a Slave,” the spirited “The Three Idiots,” the visually captivating “Avatar,” and the heart-wrenching “Titanic” have been landmarks on this voyage. These gems ushered me into the vastness of the “Star Wars” universe, the spellbinding corridors of the “Harry Potter” series, and the rugged terrains of Middle-Earth as seen in “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.”

Yet, as the journey continues, I find myself in the electrifying realms of “The Matrix” and the action-packed streets of the “John Wick” series. The former introduces us to a world of simulated reality and poses profound philosophical questions about human existence, while the latter plunges us into an underworld of assassins, showcasing breathtaking choreography and a relentless pursuit of vengeance.

However, amidst these cinematic marvels, two films stand out, etching their place in my Top 4: “Shawshank Redemption” and “Finding Nemo.” Two contrasting tales, one of hope and resilience amidst the confines of a prison, and the other of an oceanic quest fueled by a father’s love. Both movies, despite their differing narratives and styles, resonate deeply, emphasizing the unwavering human (or fish) spirit. They underscore the universality of themes like hope, perseverance, and love, reminding us that even in the face of adversity, a glimmer of hope always remains.

Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “Shawshank Redemption” (1994) gives us a window into a world where hope and resilience shine even in the darkest corners. This gripping drama follows Andy Dufresne, impeccably portrayed by Tim Robbins, a man unjustly imprisoned, and Morgan Freeman’s wise Red. It is a testament to the endurance of the human spirit, perfectly encapsulated by Andy’s words: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” Yet, it is also a story about freedom, both physical and spiritual, reminding us, “Some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright.”

On a different wavelength, “Finding Nemo” (2003), directed by the visionary Andrew Stanton, immerses us in the ocean’s vastness. Here, we embark on a quest with Marlin, the overprotective clownfish, searching for his missing son, Nemo. Beneath the playful animation lie profound themes: the challenges of parental love echoed in Marlin’s desperate “I have to find my son!” and the journey of self-discovery, summed up by Dory’s cheerful mantra, “Just keep swimming.”

Production-wise, both films are masterclasses in their respective genres. The grim ambiance of Shawshank’s prison, juxtaposed against moments of hope, paints a powerful picture. “Finding Nemo,” with its vibrant aquatic sequences, reveals Pixar’s ingenuity, drawing us into a world that feels both familiar and fantastical.

While “Shawshank” unveils the intricacies of life behind bars in a linear narrative, “Finding Nemo” takes us on intertwining subplots, each filled with its charm and challenges. Their stories, diverse in nature, strike a familiar chord of deep emotional resonance.

Roger Deakins’ cinematographic choices in “Shawshank” serve as visual poetry. The stark contrast between the confines of Shawshank and the boundless world outside emphasizes the themes of captivity and freedom. “Finding Nemo,” despite its animated medium, does not lag. Its masterful play of colors and light replicates the ethereal beauty of the undersea realm.

The musical scores, crafted by the talented Thomas Newman for both films, provide the perfect undercurrent. The melodies in “Shawshank” echo its poignant narrative, while “Finding Nemo” offers a playful yet profound soundtrack, resonating with the mysteries of the deep.

Performance-wise, Robbins and Freeman in “Shawshank” are nothing short of legendary. Their nuanced portrayals become the pulse of the story. “Finding Nemo,” though animated, boasts impeccable voice acting, with every character bursting with life, adding layers of depth and humor.

In essence, both films underscore the infinite human desire for a higher purpose. Andy’s quest for justice and truth, paralleled by Marlin’s relentless journey for his son, echo our shared yearning to transcend challenges for the greater good.

These two cinematic masterpieces, differing in approach yet similar in essence, underline the significance of hope, perseverance, and love. They stand as reminders that even in the most challenging moments, there lies an eternal beacon of hope. As we navigate the vast ocean of life, films like “Shawshank Redemption” and “Finding Nemo” guide us, teaching us to seek the light amidst the overwhelming darkness.


Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.