Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Get Busy

Evergreen, Colorado

The Sunday Night Movie at the House of Tystad last weekend was The Shawshank Redemption (1994). We watched it on DVD and the video quality was amazing. Not all movies made 17 years ago hold up to the test of time, but this one really does. It's a beautiful film that anyone who loves movies really must see. Ask around and you'll be surprised at how many people count it among their favorite movies of all time. If you watch it for the first time or again for the 50th time, you'll be glad you did.

One of many reasons to love the film is its message to "Get busy living or get busy dying." That line of dialogue is taken verbatim from the Stephen King short story "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" (upon which the screenplay is based), which was one of four stories in the 1982 King book "Different Seasons." "Different Seasons" also contains the stories "Apt Pupil" (also made into a film), "The Breathing Method," and "The Body," which was made into the film "Stand By Me" (an outstanding movie that warrants its own discussion).

As an aside, The Shawshank Redemption was adapted for the screen and directed by Frank Darabont, who has directed other films based on Stephen King's books. He also created the AMC television series "The Walking Dead" (2010-) and is reportedly a close friend of Stephen King.

The case can be made that Stephen King, who is known to be a huge fan of rock and roll, borrowed the idea for the line "Get busy living or get busy dying" from the Bob Dylan lyric "He not busy being born is busy dying" from the song "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," which appeared on the classic 1965 Dylan album "Bringing It All Back Home." The lines are strikingly similar and it would make sense that Stephen King would be appreciative of Dylan's genius with the English language.

In any case, the message we get from watching The Shawshank Redemption - probably from Dylan, through King, through Darabont - is that we each need to make a simple decision to either embrace life and live it to its fullest... or be satisfied with the status quo. I won't elaborate on that issue here, but I will say that one of the things that inspires me the most and motivates me to live my life to the fullest is art. Specifically, film as art. And that brings us full circle. Creativity breeds creativity and art fosters art.

Thank you, Bob Dylan. Now I'm busy.


  1. Loved Different Seasons, and if I remember right, The Breathing Method of creepy good. I have seen Shawshank probably 20 times, and never tire of it. The dynamics between Andy DuFrain (sp?) and the other prisoners over the long span of time is a great lesson in loyalty and friendship.

  2. Sorry, The Breathing Method was creepy good.

  3. Yes! I was at the library this afternoon checking out a copy of Different Seasons. I really need to read Shawshank again and I'm going to try to get you-know-who to read The Body so we can watch Stand By Me again. I'm not above bribery.

    I love that you pointed out the dynamics between Andy and the other prisoners. I thought the scenes with Andy and Red having conversations were all amazing. It was like they were destined to be friends. That's really great stuff.

  4. Hey, Susie... weird coincidence here. I just read that Bob Dylan celebrated his 70th birthday today. Honestly, I did not know that when I wrote this post earlier tonight. See, Dylan works in strange and mysterious ways.