Many of the most powerful stories are the soulful ones that teach us not to despair, not to be swamped by sorrow. They remind us that hope is a precious and buoyant emotion which can give our lives substance and meaning.

The Shawshank Redemption is based on a novella by Stephen King. Tim Robbins plays Andy, a banker who is sent to prison for the murder of his wife and her lover. The judge who sentences him finds him "a particularly remorseless and icy man." Andy's cool reserve and aloofness is not accepted well by the other inmates at Shawshank maximum-security prison in Maine. He is raped by some angry men and given several long stretches in solitary confinement for his bad attitude.

Luckily, Andy is befriended by Red, played by Morgan Freeman, the prison fixer. He is awed by this young man's quiet reserve and inward resolve to make the best of his bad situation. Andy's accounting skills come in handy, and he begins doing the taxes for the guards and laundering money for the corrupt warden. This lands him the cushy job of librarian. Eventually, Andy wrangles money out of state officials to build the best prison library anywhere.

Writer and director Frank Darabont draws out strong and intense performances from Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins as soulmates who support each other while doing hard time. Red sees hope as a dangerous thing that can drive a man insane, but Andy believes it is fuel that keeps one going against all odds. The Shawshank Redemption is a jubilant tribute to hope as an essential quality of soul.