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Luke Bell
Luke Bell

Subtitle Hope Springs

Interpretations of Shawshank abound; depending on who you ask, the film might resonate as everything from a simple bromance to a biblical allegory. However, by using the prison as a canvas for a humanistic hope parable, the film managed to tap into something sublime and all-inclusive, something that cuts across demographics and appeals to people's innermost yearning selves. Or, as Red puts it, "something so beautiful it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it."

subtitle Hope Springs

The story of wrongfully convicted inmate Andy Dufresne, played with glassy-eyed stoicism by Tim Robbins, speaks to the imprisoned dreamer in all of us. He's a man, Red tells us, "who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side." Anyone who's ever felt trapped by their circumstances, anyone who's ever hoped for a better life, can relate to Andy's decades-long struggle in Shawshank State Prison. As The Shawshank Redemption turns 25, it remains essential fuel for the film-lover's soul: inspirational and heart-aching, but also perhaps richer and more multi-layered than you remember.

It's easy to project oneself onto Andy, who dreams of "a warm place with no memory." King's novella, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, originally appeared in his Different Seasons collection under the subtitle of "Hope Springs Eternal." That's a phrase that gets right to the heart of what makes Shawshank such an abiding crowd-pleaser.

Andy faces the prospect that his hope is a false one: one of those "shitty pipe dreams" that Red warns about. "Hope is a dangerous thing," Red says. "Hope can drive a man insane." Being a dreamer doesn't always mean being a doer. Too often, the notion of tomorrow comes at the expense of today.

Of course, Andy can quote scripture, chapter and verse, just as well as the warden can, and maybe there's more to this movie hero than meets the eye. To be clear, there's no mention of Easter in Shawshank, but it's a movie about the fulfillment of hope, and as film critic Mark Kermode has noted, Andy Dufresne functions, on one level, as a Christ figure.

This is just one reading of The Shawshank Redemption. When I was younger, I was focused on "hope" to the exclusion of all other themes. Like all great works of art, however, Shawshank is a thematic onion.

All I knew was that the movie had moved me to tears. It sprang from a story by the master of the macabre, yet it seemed more divinely inspired than any church sermon I'd ever heard. Years later, Darabont would revisit hope-parable territory with a different kind of King adaptation: The Mist. That movie's ending is a cautionary tale. Shawshank's is meant to uplift.

The bulk of the film concentrates on what happens during the intense week of therapy, both in the sessions with Dr. Feld and afterwards, when Kay and Arnold perform homework lessons that include things like holding one another and taking baby steps toward sexual reconnection. Some of these scenes are uncomfortable and there's a real sense of growth in the characters that can be attributed as much to the screenplay by Vanessa Taylor (Game of Thrones) as to the performances of Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. In the Ingmar Bergman version of this story, these two would ultimately fail to reconnect and one or both of them would commit suicide. This being a movie aimed at multiplex audiences, it's reasonable to expect a more hopeful denouement. The movie is entitled Hope Springs for reasons beyond that being the locale where it transpires.

Despite mostly taking place in a brutal prison, this is indeed a story about hope. Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is a mild-mannered banker accused of killing his wife and her lover. Morgan Freeman plays Red, the straight-talking, contraband-smuggling prisoner with whom Dufresne begins an unlikely friendship.

But hope can spring in the strangest of places. Dufresne learns to adapt, finding beauty in music and literature, working the system to his benefit, helping other prisoners and daring to dream of a life beyond Shawshank.

Philippe Lioret (France 2009) 110 min. 35MM. With Vincent Lindon, Firat Ayverdi. French, Kurdish & English with English subtitles.A compassionate immigration drama about the hope of new beginnings and the power of true love, Welcome centers on two couples contending with issues of separation and dislocation. A 17 year-old Kurdish refugee has struggled his way through Europe for 3 months, trying to reunite with his girlfriend, who recently emigrated to England. Stopped by authorities on the French side of the Channel, he meets a swimming instructor in turmoil over his imminent divorce. Their relationship is an extraordinary account of human bonding that won the Ecumenical Jury & Europa Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Jonas Carpignano (Italy/France/US/Germany 2015) 107 min. DCP. With Koudous Seihon, Alassane Sy. Multiple languages with English subtitles.This remarkably timely, eye-opening look at an all-too-real issue charts the death-defying struggle of African migrants as they risk everything to start a new life in Europe. Ayiva (first time actor Koudous Seihon in a revelatory performance) and Abas (Sy) are close friends from Burkina Faso determined to make it to Italy in order to find work and provide for their families back home. But even after surviving the harrowing journey nothing can prepare the two men for the hostility and violence that awaits them.

Aki Kaurismäki (France/Finland 2011) 93 min. 35MM. With André Wilms, Kati Outinen, Blondin Miguel. French with English subtitles.In this warmhearted portrait of the French harbor city that gives the film its name, fate throws young African refugee Idrissa (Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (Wilms), a well-spoken bohemian who works as a shoeshiner. With innate optimism and the unwavering support of his community, Marcel stands up to officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville and Marcel Carné, Le Havre is a charming, deadpan delight.

George's latest book contains strong stuff, as the subtitle indicates, and is well worth reading, not only by computer scientists. The author divides his argument into two parts. First, he deals with the threat due to the existence of large databases, the low security of access to them, and the real and potential blackmail thus made possible. George has read widely on the subject, and his quotations from the literature plus his own opinions make this a good source book to lead the interested reader more deeply into the subject. In discussing what he calls the databank and the "cocktail party" societies, George is a keen observer of current and future concerns and can be faulted only for his consistent and deep pessimism. He often writes of the loss of our dreams.

Our hope is to communicate out and have answers by the end of next week (June 12th). We will send this information directly to students via their Mason e-mail and will post additional information to our various social media accounts. Additionally, updates are often sent out via the Mason Family Flash newsletter and through the Mason Family Association.

We know that many people have questions about the fall semester. We are doing our best to plan and are hopeful that we will be able to reopen the campus this fall, though it may not look like a typical fall semester. We are depending on the guidance of public health experts to inform our decision making and we hope to share more details on this evolving situation soon. Our goal is to have more clarity by early June.

We appreciate the broad engagement of the university community with the Faculty Senate on this issue over the past week. As faculty, student learning is our main objective. It is our hope that empowering students to make decisions about the grading categories that will be used to evaluate their work during this unique semester will reduce some of the stress associated with the transition to virtual learning.

We invite you to join us for a celebration of your efforts at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 22 on GMU-TV. This will include congratulatory messages from me and the deans, a short message from a member of the Class of 2020, a performance by the Green Machine, and special guests wishing you well. We hope you will take the time to celebrate your accomplishments and invite friends and family to do so as well.

Over the years, I had many gratifying conversations with Dr. John Hope Franklin. Two of those conversations, however, stand out, in large part because they left me perplexed. In 1994, I had the honor of presenting Dr. Franklin with the Carter G. Woodson Scholars' Medallion for distinction in research, writing, and activism in the field of African American life and history. We shared the dais at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History's award ceremony, and I had a rare opportunity for an extensive chat with him. I had wondered why the subtitle of From Slavery to Freedom had been changed for the third edition in 1967 from "A History of American Negroes" as it appeared in the first edition in 1947 to "A History of Negro Americans." He shrugged off my question perhaps because he thought that I was inquiring about the use of the term "Negro," which by 1994, he had changed in the subtitle to "African Americans."

It appears that Dr. Franklin was sensitive to discussions about his use of the term "Negro," which was certainly an appropriate term in 1947. I assume that before using "African Americans" in 1994 he had received some heat from younger scholars. I recently asked V. P. Franklin, Editor of The Journal of African American History and one of Dr. Franklin's former students, if he had ever seen Dr. Franklin become angry. V. P. Franklin replied that on an occasion in 1988 celebrating the publication of the sixth edition of From Slavery to Freedom, in which the subtitle was still "A History of Negro Americans," Dr. Franklin became angry when questioned about the continued use of "Negro Americans." Dr. Franklin let it be known that his generation had fought for use of the term "Negro," especially for its capitalization in the press, and thus its continued use was "a matter of principle." However, the intent of my question was not about the use of the term "Negro," but the difference between the use of "American Negroes" and "Negro Americans." 041b061a72


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